As the government looks to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a north east planning expert is calling for changes to national planning policy to deliver more of the small onshore wind turbine schemes the country needs to provide renewable energy.

Joe Ridgeon, director at planning specialist at Hexham-based Hedley Planning Services, said the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied, should change.

Current policy in England states that new onshore wind turbines cannot receive planning permission unless an area is identified as suitable for wind energy in a local or neighbourhood plan. In addition, following consultation, it needs to be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been fully addressed.

Given the vocal minority which are against wind turbine development, these restrictions can stop developments regardless of whether or not the site is suitable for wind turbines.

A simple adjustment to introduce a presumption for wind turbines would unlock a huge opportunity for more development of small-scale wind turbine projects, said Joe Ridgeon, helping to power growth in a host of ‘exciting’ renewable energy schemes across the country.

“Indeed, every farm and business, with an appropriate site, would be able to erect a wind turbine, without the worry that planning is going to be the biggest risk to investment,” he said.

His comments come as the UK government unveils its latest strategy to make the great shift to a virtually zero-carbon economy. Achieving net zero would mean the UK will no longer be adding to the total amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“With the strong likelihood of soaring electricity and gas prices this winter, it’s a good time to rethink current policies towards energy generation if we are to create a resurgence in interest in wind turbines,” said Joe Ridgeon.

“Differentiating small wind turbines from larger onshore wind farms and understanding the benefits and low visual impact they bring, would be hugely significant. Moreover, farms and rural landowners could give energy control back to UK businesses, helping them to become more competitive on the back of a reduced carbon footprint and improved UK energy security.”

Joe Ridgeon’s comments come as a renewable energy project in a Northumberland village, which will provide enough power for the owners to power their own home and reduce their carbon footprint, has received planning approval.

“Harnessing the wind is an efficient way to supply clean energy and we expect to see more applications coming forward as people continue to see the advantages and plug in to greener energy solutions,” he said.