New review of wind turbine ‘buffer zones’ published

A new report reviewing the latest evidence on the impacts of wind turbines has been published today by Regen SW.

It sets out the evidence on the impact of wind turbines and the implications for standardised residential separation distances or ‘buffer zones’. The report concludes that policies that set buffer zones are in conflict with government policy and do not provide the best approach for addressing the impacts of wind turbines.

Some local authorities and politicians have shown interest in setting buffer zones for wind turbines with the aim of protecting the amenity of residential areas. The report “Residential buffer zones for wind turbines: the evidence” reviews the latest evidence on the noise, safety, health impacts and public opinion of wind turbines. The report finds that the impacts are most effectively addressed by planning authorities on a case by case basis, not through standardised buffer zones.

The report also concludes that standard separation distances are in conflict with national policy, which requires local authorities to have a positive strategy to support renewable energy.

Cheryl Hiles, director of sustainable energy delivery at Regen SW, said: “Wind is the most established and cost effective renewable energy technology we have and needs to play a part in our energy mix. Planning policies that put whole areas of land off limits for wind turbines without assessing the specific local circumstances are in conflict with national policy and could result in communities losing out on the chance to host their own turbines.

“As with any other development, the planning process should take a robust approach to ensuring wind turbines are appropriately sited and any impacts are minimised. This can be done most effectively by taking a case by case approach to each proposed development.”