THE Honda wind turbine planning row may never happen again as Swindon Council seeks to set down a minimum 1km separation between turbines and homes.

The council intends to draw up a new policy on wind turbines in its final version of the Core Strategy, a document expected to come into force in spring 2013 which will set out the vision for Swindon over the next 15 years.

This follows in the footsteps of Wiltshire Council, which recently passed a policy that would ban turbines within 3km of a home for turbines taller than 150m and 2km for those over 100 metres. Nationally, Lord Reay is also pushing forward a Parliamentary bill for a minimum distance based on height.

Coun Dale Heenan , cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “We will be having a policy that reflects local residents’ concerns on wind turbines.

“The specific wording is still being discussed but I wouldn’t be surprised if it includes separation distances of 1km, and deals with issues of noise and visual impact of wind turbines, because that’s what the problem is.”

He agreed that some people might think that more than 1km might be necessary in some cases, which is why the policy would have rules on noise and visual impact, but he stressed the council was in favour of renewable technology, and there would be a presumption in favour of solar panel farms.

“The reason we turned down the Honda turbines was because of the visual impact, not the separation distance,” he said.

“And that’s why we need a comprehensive policy to deal with this problem so residents can be protected and businesses will know the state of play of what we’re working towards.”

Des Fitzpatrick, chairman of Ill Wind, the group which campaigned against the Honda turbines, said: “I am surprised at the inclusion, in the Core Strategy, of a clause on minimum separation distances between wind turbines and houses.

“The planning department recently rejected Ill Wind's request for such a clause.

“Having said that, this is a positive move and is good news. However, a 1km separation distance between homes and the current generation of 120 metre high turbines is too low. For these, a 2km separation – as in the Wiltshire Council Core Strategy and Lord Reay’s Bill before Parliament – would be more appropriate.

“Provided we can agree on this it could be a big move forward.”

Andy West, of Stratton , another Ill Wind member, said that if the policy had been in place a few years ago, the Honda application would not even have got off the ground, as the nearest homes would have been 319 metres away.

He said: “Actually, what Ill Wind has asked the council to do is make it a requirment for the separation distance to be 2,000 metres if the turbine is greater than 100 metres high.”