Climate policies approved in revised central Lincolnshire plan

Councils in Lincolnshire are to take tougher action on climate change – but county bosses have said the measures could go further to combat wind turbines and better locate solar farms.

The authority’s Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee agreed a series of revisions to the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan on Monday which aim to address climate change and achieve carbon-net-zero.

The plan lays out guidelines for local planning policy across North Kesteven and West Lindsey District Councils along with the City of Lincoln. It has been developed in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council.

It includes 16 policies on the subject of climate change including the best design principles to make buildings the most energy efficient (orientation, fabric, renewable energy), how to redevelop old plots and create new plots which generate at least the same amount of renewable energy as they demand, the reduction of carbon, water usage and flooding.

It also covers renewable energy schemes laying out a series of tests to determine their impact on local characters, amenities and infrastructure, their impacts on aviation and defence navigation and their impact on local pollution.

The plan aims to achieve 230MW of energy via solar (currently 149MW) and 150MW via wind (currently 0MW) in order to avoid reliance on just one renewable energy source, and lays out sites where large scale wind turbines could go.

It puts a presumption in favour of solar farms unless the proposal causes significant harm, uses the “best and most versatile” agricultural land or uses land allocated for another purpose.

It also limits small to medium single wind turbines to one per dwelling and places strict rules on the location of wind turbines – including that they must not be within 2km of the boundary of a town or city without consideration over noise, flicker and size.

North Kesteven District Council leader Councillor Richard Wright said the plans had been through a thorough examination and had broad support. He said not one turbine had been allocated but that the policies would ensure clean and affordable energy.

“What we’ve got before us today, I believe is a very well balanced set of recommendations…. It’s all based on evidence, it’s all based on challenge.”

Lincolnshire County Councillor Colin Davie, however, said the policies needed to go further and put forward a series of amendments.

He said large wind turbines were “not the right solution” in the county and pushed more for an increased target for solar power on poor quality land or on buildings, while reducing wind requirements.

Land classification work by the council showed around 6,900 acres of Grade 4 (‘poor’) land in Central Lincolnshire, which he said would be enough to accommodate the required solar energy capacity.

He called on the committee to recognise the importance of Lincolnshire’s landscapes and to protect it for future generations.

“Central Lincolnshire characterised by large amounts of best and most versatile agricultural land which must be protected on the grounds of maintaining food security and protecting the local economy,” he said.

He suggested an amendment which said the committee “object to all applications for onshore wind turbines, other than for small scale, one or two turbines, which are specifically linked to development and business sustainability issues”.

Councillor Davie also called for areas not to be excluded from plans to build more sustainable houses and called for all new homes being built in Central Lincolnshire to meet higher standards of energy efficiency.

He called for viability to be deleted as an excuse.

“It discriminates against lower value areas in providing energy efficient housing and ultimately, anyone who is looking to get on the housing ladder deserves to have the same opportunity, the same quality of accommodation, whether they live in Sleaford, Lincoln, Gainsborough or any other part of the central Lincs area. They should not be discriminated against in any way.”

In reports before the councillors on Monday, officers warned measures that were too strict could impact the viability of developments and prohibit them from being built.

Principal strategic planning officer Phyl Hylton said this meant it would be “contrary to our own evidence to require all homes in all parts of central Lincolnshire to meet the full standards to being sought elsewhere”.

He said policies had been “carefully worded” to ensure they would be required in the “vast majority” of areas and that deleting them would undermine the policy and risk it being taken out entirely by the Secretary of State’s inspector.

“Developers will be expected to go as far as they can with delivering the net zero carbon homes whilst remaining viable. This will ensure that we maximise the delivery of energy efficient buildings,” he said.

He said changing the balance of renewable energy targets would result in them being unreliable and that consideration of agricultural land quality alone was “not a sound approach”.

He indicated some of the amendments from Councillor Davie would result in “far more significant” pieces of work for the councils.

Some councillors were critical of the late-timing of the amendment, and the lack of public consultation that had gone into them.

They voted to reject the amendments and move forward with the original Central Lincolnshire Local Planning Policies before them.

The plan will now be put back out for further public review in March before it is submitted it to the Secretary of State for public examination.