Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Better planning needed on renewable energy to protect the countryside

Cumulative impacts of energy infrastructure on the East Sussex countryside. Cumulative impacts of energy infrastructure on the East Sussex countryside. Photo: © Shutterstock

We are campaigning for better planning for renewable energy from wind and solar that gives us the low carbon energy we need while protecting the beauty of the countryside.

In summer 2013, the Government introduced changes to planning policies on renewable energy. One year on, our research published in our report: The countryside regeneration game, has revealed a 20% drop in planning approvals for wind turbines and solar farms in the countryside.

This has helped reduce some landscape and other local impacts, but there is too much national political intervention in planning decisions. Our research has revealed too much reliance on Government intervention where the Secretary of State has turned down 78% of appeals. The current approach to planning renewable energy is confusing for local communities, developers and investors. What is needed is better planning policy and financial incentives to locate renewables on appropriate sites.

Our six recommendations:

  1. A plan-led approach
    A strategic, plan-led approach to developing renewable energy infrastructure, locally and across planning boundaries, directing it to where local environmental effects − such as impacts on the landscape or wildlife − are minimised.
  2. A fair say for communities and local environmental protection
    Amending the National Planning Policy Framework to reinforce the need for renewable energy that does not automatically override local environmental protections and the planning concerns of communities.
  3. Take account of cumulative impacts from energy infrastructure
    Better guidance for planners and decision makers on how to address cumulative impacts from energy infrastructure — including from multiple technologies. Cumulative impacts concern the degree to which a development will become a feature in particular views as experienced by people − the more infrastructure, the more it becomes a feature.
  4. Integrate renewable energy policies into Local Plans
    Local planning authorities should integrate comprehensive renewable energy policies into their Local Plans, informed by landscape character assessments.
  5. Encourage more solar on roofs
    Barriers for solar electricity on commercial roofs need to be addressed to make the Government’s vision to stimulate expansion a reality.This could be further encouraged through subsidies, but major barriers also need to be addressed − such as the complexities created by building ownership and tenancy arrangements.
  6. Integrate planning with subsidies to encourage use of brownfield
    The Government should better reconcile the planning system with the subsidy system. This should include exploring how locations with lower local environmental impacts can be further encouraged through subsidies, such as using brownfield land unsuitable for housing for solar farms, and integrating solar electricity into new buildings.

Two ways you can help

oneSupport our campaign with a donation

Your donation will help us defend our beautiful landscapes and encourage renewable energy in the right places that protects the countryside.

Link iconMake a donation

twoJoin CPRE and help your local group

Take a look at the case studies from our research, are there areas under threat where you live? CPRE has a local group in every county, standing up for the countryside. By joining your local CPRE group you could help fight local campaigns and make a difference where you live.

Link iconFind your local group
Link iconBecome a member


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Give your view: Making better use of brownfield land for renewable energy
The countryside generation game

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