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Ilkley MP says windfarm applications to be judged on own merits
12:40pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in Local news
Every new application for wind turbines must be judged on its own merits, says Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins.
And he is urging people to get involved in the planning process.
Windfarms form part of Mr Hopkins’ portfolio as housing minister, a role he was appointed to last week in the Prime Minister’s reshuffle.
A string of applications has been submitted to Bradford Council in recent times for turbines. Several have been rejected and appeals submitted.
In his new post, Mr Hopkins could become involved in ruling on proposed schemes.
“There is a responsibility on the Government to source renewable energy and part of that is windfarms,” he said.
“I will be looking at schemes, on and off-shore, right across the country.
“Each will need to be considered on its own merits. If an application is rejected by local planners and goes to appeal, I would get a chance to be involved.”
He acknowledged that turbines were a controversial subject and sparked mixed reactions from the public.
“There’s a broad spectrum of views – some people have huge affection for them and see them as a symbol as much as anything else while others see them as an intrusion,” he said.
“A policy for windfarms is clearly laid out and there is a planning process. I would encourage developers to engage with the public and the public to engage in that process. The system is there to be used.”
Mr Hopkins’ new post will also see him promoting the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, part of efforts to assist people on to the housing ladder by giving them the chance to purchase a property with a fraction of the normal deposit.
One of his first duties as housing minister was to accompany Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to a new-build scheme in Northampton.
“There are a lot of people out there desperate to get into the housing market and they need affordable access to it,” said Mr Hopkins.
This week he revealed details of the help being given to military families wanting to step up the housing ladder.
In the past two years, more than 780 military households have either bought or reserved a new home through Government schemes.
Mr Hopkins, a former soldier with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, said: “Our military men and women make a commitment that is far beyond just coming to work and doing a job. And yet often the perverse consequence of this service to their country has been enormous difficulties when trying to put down roots and buy a home.
“That’s why, from the outset, we ensured our troops were prioritised for homeownership schemes, and sent housing agents into military bases to help members of the armed forces with the process of buying a home.
“I’m delighted that hundreds have seized this opportunity.”
- Meanwhile Mr Hopkins has hit back at claims that David Cameron downgraded his job – because he is only a junior. The Prime Minister catapulted the Ilkley MP into his first ministerial job last week, asking him to sort out Britain’s inability to build enough homes. But there was astonishment that the crucial housing job now rests with a parliamentary under-secretary – the lowest rung – rather than a minister of state. In the past, the housing minister has even been granted a seat in the Cabinet table The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations, led criticism at the implications of the reshuffle. David Orr, its chief executive, said: “We’re surprised and disappointed that – given the scale of the housing crisis and how crucial housing is to the country’s long-term economic recovery – the Government has decided that the housing brief should be taken up at an under-secretary of state, rather than minister of state, level.” Latest figures show the number of houses completed in England in 2012/13 was the lowest since records began – with 107,820 built. It means the Coalition has gone backwards, despite repeated criticisms of the last Labour Government for failing to deliver new homes. But Mr Hopkins, in a letter to a national newspaper, insisted the critics were focusing on trivia. He said: “The Government’s ongoing efforts to get Britain building are far more important than the ministerial title on my red box.”
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