Environmental Strategies are key to successful DevelopmentsThe environment is on everyone’s mind these days. National governments, regional assemblies and local authorities are fighting a strange fight. Balancing the need to meet carbon reduction targets and at the same time trying protect vital landscapes and species. While many individuals would argue that they are concerned about the environment and are doing their ‘bit’ to save energy and re-cycle, these same individuals can often be found objecting to large scale wind farm schemes. There is a huge paradox when it comes to green developments. Often these potentially beneficial developments are blocked on, wait for it, environmental grounds. For the developer, understanding environmental law and legislation is a major factor that can save time and money. Environmental consultants or solicitors can play a crucial role at all stages of the proposed development.
What came first – The Developer or the Nimby?It’s probably easier to answer the one about the egg and the chicken. However any developer, whatever the scale of development, will be aware of the niggling presence of objectors. When these objectors form a pressure group and begin to look into ‘environmental factors’ only the bravest developer does not feel the urge to run for (or from) the hills.Last year there were a number of cases in which an apparently green scheme for wind generation were turned down. Blaenau Gwent Council refused planning permission for a relatively small 4 turbine scheme, a decision that was upheld by the Welsh Planning Inspectorate at the appeal stage in July 2010. In the original refusal landscape impact and ground stability were both detailed as reasons for refusal. Considering claims by the developer that the project would have brought £2million in construction projects to the region and an offer of £500 000 for local community trusts and projects, both the local council and residents could have been expected to welcome these proposals in these difficult economic times.Later in the year Breckland Council in North Norfolk refused an application for an onshore sub-station for a massive offshore development near Cromer, again on the basis of the negative impact to the environment. The cost of this latter application for the developer would have been significant to say the least, and the example should serve as a warning to all developers.
Creating the Right Environment for SuccessThese two examples alone, illustrate that no developer can afford to take environmental aspects lightly. Environmental law is complex, based on very specific local factors, regional planning, national legislation and European regulations.While the Environment Agency are the main body dealing with all matters environmental when it comes to development, it pays developers to employ experienced environmental consultants, solicitors and experts to assess impact in the broadest sense while at the same time being in a position to deal with specific issues.