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Planning permission for wind turbines: Regulations and Tips

Wind turbines are becoming ever more popular among homeowners with the great source of renewable energy being ever more useful in the current energy market. With this addition to any property, understandably many TESUP customers who would like to install wind turbines on their house are concerned about the legality of such an operation. This is mostly covered by planning permission for domestic properties to install domestic wind turbines. The planning permission rules and laws vary from country to country and even locally within different districts of a given country. Due to this variability of laws and rules it can be difficult for anyone looking to install a wind turbine to make sure their installation complies with their local rules.

This blog will highlight a few things you should look into and consider if you are looking to purchase yourself a wind turbine to install on your property. We will particularly focus on the planning permission constraints put in place by governments and local governing bodies in the countries of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Germany. We will also look at some general tips for those outside those countries to get you started with some planning permission considerations when installing a small domestic wind turbine on your property. First we will look at the United Kingdom. Within the UK different requirements for wind turbines are applied depending on which country you live in: England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Island, it is always necessary to get planning permission to install a turbine. In England it is usually required to get planning permission for a wind turbine, however there are exceptions where planning permission is not needed. Planning permission is not needed if the turbine is classed as ‘permitted development’. Generally this applies when the property has not already had a wind turbine or heat pump installed. More information on these cases can be found at this link: In terms of what requirements need to be met to achieve planning permission, these also vary by country within the UK. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish planning permission requires: That the wind turbine must be the only one present on the property; That the turbine is situated 100m from the boundaries of another property and that the wind turbine is not located in an area of special interest such as a conservation area, world heritage site, area of scientific interest or on the grounds of a listed building. More information can be found here:

England has requirements specific to the type of wind turbine. For building mounted turbines the requirements are that: the property must be detached; the top of the turbine blades should not be more than 3 metres taller than the height of the property or 15 metres above the ground; the turbine is at least 5 metres from the boundaries of the property. For pole mounted turbine installations the top of the turbine must not be more than 11.1 metres off the ground and the turbine should be at least 1.1 times its own height away from the property boundary (So if your turbines total height is 8 metres it should be 8.8 metres from the edge of your land) If your turbine installation meets these requirements it will likely be approved for planning permission, just apply to your local council or planning committee. The considerations for someone wanting to set up a turbine in the USA are similar. The planning permission or building permits as they are commonly referred to, are a bit trickier to pin down. The permits are generally based on zoning requirements and restrictions applied to the neighbourhood a property resides in. The issuing of building permits is generally controlled by local authorities. As the USA is such a large country, with many local authorities it can be difficult to summarise the rules and regulations around installing a wind turbine on your house. Generally it is best practice to contact your local authorities such as a local building inspector or planning board who can provide you with a list of requirements that your wind turbine installation must follow to be acceptable. Although it is difficult to give specifics there are a few general points that you should consider: Residential zones usually have a limit of 35 feet applied so any turbine exceeding this may require additional paperwork; Noise issues with the turbines, although the sound emitted by wind turbines is barely perceptible some neighbours may be concerned; Also, anyone looking to install a wind turbine on their property should check if their property falls under the influence of a home owner’s or neighbour’s association. This organisation may object to a wind turbine based on a number of reasons such as a wind turbine not fitting the aesthetic or character of the neighbourhood, potentially blocking views from houses or generating too much noise. Some of these issues can be resolved by providing contextual data about the wind turbine you would like to install such as noise emission data or edited photos of the turbine installation. (Check out the TESUP architectural visualisation service if you need such an image)

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Finally for this blog post, we will have a look at what the regulations are for installing a domestic wind turbine in Germany. Similar to the USA it really depends on the area you live in. Building permits are required for domestic wind turbines. These permits are issued by the local building authority of a given area. Unfortunately there are large differences between each of these authorities so it is, again, difficult to give exact rules. Follow a similar approach to the USA when looking to install a domestic turbine, accounting for the considerations mentioned above. Also a number of cases have been recorded of officials in Germany, misinformed on the applications and benefits of small wind turbines blocking or hindering wind turbine projects. If this is the case for you, try presenting the local building authorities with data about the turbine you would like to install, potentially showing a similar case of a wind turbine being installed elsewhere, the benefits it brought and the magnitude of problems caused by it. TESUP hopes this blog post is useful for any aspiring wind turbine owners, good luck in installing your very own wind turbine!

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