Small wind turbine planning and regulations are primarily done at the local/regional level, which provides both advantages and disadvantages:
- Locales can have very different climates and conditions which may require specific regulations and accommodations for that region
- It is up to every county/region to come up with a process that works for them and the needs of the community they are a part of
- Developers would need to familiarize themselves with the unique process/regulations of each specific county they plan to install in
- There is typically no consistent strategy for applications and planning, even within the same county; in some areas each installation is treated differently
- It can be difficult for developers to plan easily and thoroughly for wind turbine installations with so much ambiguity in procedures and regulations and the process can take a lot longer as a result (6 months to a year or more!)
However, the real difficulty lies in some counties and regions of the world which do not know enough about wind energy to assist in proper siting and planning. Unfortunately, some areas are even misguided by anti-wind lobbyists and/or misinformation. The lack of consistency between regulations of neighbouring regions can also cause great confusion and frustration for both communities and wind energy developers.
In the UK, Cornwall MP Andrew George said, ‘In recent years I believe that Cornwall Council has failed to adopt sufficiently clear, strategic and robust planning policies to guide development and protect what is special in our environment…I hope that the new county council will now move quickly to fill this gap in planning strategy and avoid a situation where applications appear to be handled in a piecemeal and erratic manner.”
Fortunately, more regions all over the world are coming up with strategies for planning procedures and process improvements now that renewable energy is becoming a more popular source of generating electricity.