Renewables First provides all of the services required to give your wind turbine planning application the best chance of success. Key to obtaining wind turbine planning permission is early consultations, good communication with stakeholders and provision of high quality and accurate information.
For wind turbine planning applications Renewables First uses a similar structured approach to that used in our wind feasibility process. The process aims to define the scope of the planning application and the required supporting surveys at the earliest possible stage so that the total costs can be firmed-up to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
Wind Turbine Planning Stages
- WP2 – Screening and Consultations
- WP3 – Application Surveys, Preparation and Submission
- WP4 – Application Management
- WP5 – Post-consent and Appeals
WP2 Screening and Consultations
This involves asking the Local Planning Authority (LPA) whether the application will require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or not. Smaller projects are generally non-EIA and most medium-scale projects are also non-EIA unless the site is particularly sensitive. As projects get larger the likelihood of requiring an EIA increases. In parallel Renewables First will consult the key stakeholders (Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, English Heritage, Natural Resource Wales, CADW, telecommunications link operators, aviation interest groups etc.) to identify potential issues and work to remove possible objections to the application and give it the best chance of success.
*Note that for sites that have completed Renewables First’s modular wind feasibility process these tasks would have already been completed at the Screening Opinion and Statutory Consultations (SOSC) stage.*
WP3 Application Surveys, Preparation and Submission
There are a number of areas that wind turbine planning applications need to consider, including planning policy, design and access, landscape and visual impact (LVIA), cultural heritage and archaeology, ecology and ornithology, hydrology, noise, shadow flicker, transport and access, aviation and telecommunication links are just a selection of the main ones. Knowing what information and the level of detail required is essential and comes from working closely with the LPA and other stakeholders to agree the scope before any work commences.
Once the scoping is completed the main piece of work commences; preparing the wind turbine planning application for submission. Depending on the scale of the development this can involve completing various third-party specialist surveys and assessments such as bird and bat surveys and background noise and Cultural heritage assessments. Where specialist subcontractors are required Renewables First would procure these services on your behalf so you will only have a single Renewables First point-of-contact. The remaining planning statements and sections would be completed by our internal planning experts.
For sites in England a ‘community consultation’ must be completed before the application is submitted. The scope of this varies depending on the scale of the project, but once again Renewables First would take care of everything and answer all of the questions that arise.
Once the wind turbine planning application is complete it is submitted, and once validated by the LPA the WP4 Application Management stage can commence.
WP4 Application Management
Next comes a crucial part of the wind turbine planning process which is sometimes overlooked.
Actively guiding the application smoothly through the process is vitally important to give it the highest chance of success. We will respond to any queries raised by statutory consultees or members of the public quickly and accurately and regularly liaise with the Planning Officer to ensure they have everything they need and try to secure a timely decision. Renewables First believe in proactively cultivating relationships with the Planning Authority, consultees and the community to try and reduce the amount of resistance to the application.
WP5 Post-consent and Appeals
Once a planning decision has been issued there is still work to be done. If wind turbine planning permission is granted Renewables First are equipped to deal with any planning conditions that are placed upon the project. During the planning phase we do our best to ensure that conditions are limited and not overly onerous or costly to discharge. We will co-ordinate the various parties to ensure timely construction.
If unsuccessful, Renewables First will review the options and advise whether to lodge an appeal. Renewables First have experience of the appeals process and have a network of specialists to assist us as and when required to ensure the appeal submission is cost effective and has sufficient detail to give the project the best chance. Appeals can take between 6 – 18 months to reach a decision depending on the scale of projects and the case load of the Planning Inspectorate / Welsh Government / DPEA.
Approximate wind turbine planning costs
Different sizes and numbers of wind turbine developments need different levels of planning application, which is reflected in the cost of the application. Obviously all sites are different and the prices below are for a ‘typical’ site; some sites might be less and others more expensive depending on how sensitive the site is.
50 – 100 kW Wind Turbine (less than 50 metre blade tip height)
All wind projects at this scale should be non-Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Along with the standard planning application requirements they will still require a basic Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVA) and basic Cultural Heritage assessment, along with a Phase 1 ecology survey. Some sites may need supporting bat and bird surveys. A typical price would be £10,000 + VAT (+ the application fee). The application would take 2 months to prepare and normally takes 4 months to be determined by the LPA once submitted.
500 kW Wind Turbine (less than 100 metre blade tip height)
Wind projects at this scale are normally non-EIA, except for the most sensitive sites. Along with the standard planning application requirements they will require a detailed Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVA) and robust Cultural Heritage assessment, along with Phase 1 ecology and appropriate bat surveys (and birds if required). Typical price would be £35,000 – £45,000 + VAT (+ the application fee). The application would take 3 months to prepare and normally takes 5 months to be determined by the LPA once submitted.
1.5 MW – 2.5 MW Wind Turbine (less than 130 metre blade tip height)
Wind projects of this scale often come under the more stringent EIA guidelines, particularly for the larger or multiple turbines. Along with the standard planning application requirements they will require a detailed Landscape and Visual and Impact Assessment (LVIA) and a comprehensive Cultural Heritage assessment along with Phase 1 ecology and multiple bat and bird surveys. Typical price would be £60,000 + VAT (+ the application fee). The application would take 4 months to prepare and normally takes 6 months to be determined by the LPA once submitted.
For sites with two or three turbines the wind turbine planning costs will increase but the amount will depend on the size of turbines and the specifics of the site.
A quick word of caution
You may be aware that a minority of people vociferously oppose wind developments and this has made wind planning applications quite ‘political’, with local planning committee members making decisions based on their party’s view of wind power rather than the merit of the actual planning application. This makes wind turbine planning applications risky with many good quality planning applications being rejected for no rational reason. There is an appeal process which is less political, though even the decisions of the Planning Inspectorate can be overturned the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (currently Eric Pickles who is no friend of onshore wind).
This doesn’t mean you won’t get wind turbine planning permission, but it does mean you need to be aware of the risks and arbitrary nature of the planning process for wind turbines. Based on last year’s data 56% of wind turbine planning applications obtained consent from the local planning authority. Of those that didn’t and went to appeal, 44% of those gained consent at appeal. Regionally, Northern Ireland has the highest consent rates, followed by Scotland, Wales and then England.
Also you should bear in mind that some members of the local community will oppose your wind project which can be unpleasant when you know those people. Having said all that public opinion polls consistently show two thirds of the population support onshore wind and that they would happily have a wind project within 5 miles of their home.
Are you considering a wind turbine project?
The first step to develop any wind power site is to conduct a full Wind Turbine Feasibility Study.