Wind development and flood risk

Posted by on 27/06/2011

Almost two years have passed since the Department for Communities and Local Government undertook consultation on amending Planning and Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk (or PPS25). The principal aims of PPS25 are to locate development away from flood risk whenever possible and prevent inappropriate new development in areas at risk of flooding. The most vulnerable forms of development, in areas of flood risk, are directed through a sequential test.   

The proposed amendments, relate to how the functional floodplain should be identified, and are relevant to development in food risk areas involving essential (critical) infrastructure including wind turbines.

Analysis of all the UK’s Planning and Policy Statements highlighted contradictions between the Governments renewable energy strategy within functional floodplain.

Planning Policy and Statement 22: Planning and Climate Change (PPS22) indicates that renewable energy in Britain should be accommodated in locations where the technology is viable and environmental, economic, and social impacts can be addressed satisfactorily. More importantly, PPS22 states “local authorities should not use a sequential approach in the consideration of renewable energy projects (for example, by giving priority to the re-use of previously developed land for renewable technology developments)”. This lead to a perceived lack of clarity over how proposals for wind generation energy developments should be considered under PPS25, and inconsistencies between decision makers. 

In line with PPS22, the amendments to PPS25 now incorporate wind turbines as essential infrastructure.

The amends state that in the case of wind turbines, the Sequential Test, which is normally required for all land uses only partially applies. For Flood zones 1 and 2 wind development is permitted without having to satisfy the PPS25 sequential or exceptional tests. For wind development within Flood Zones 3a or 3b, it is proposed that only parts (a) and(c) of the Exception Test need to be applied namely:

  • Part (a) of the Exception Test, requires consideration of whether the sustainability benefits provided by a development outweigh the flood risk,
  •  Part (c) of the Exception Test, requires Flood Risk Assessments to demonstrate that the development can be safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere; typically via Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs).