Receive free UK energy updates

Ministers will ease planning restrictions on onshore wind farms in England, ending a de facto ban first introduced by former prime minister David Cameron almost a decade ago.

Government sources said a written ministerial statement would be issued on Tuesday setting out a more relaxed approach to planning for onshore turbines.

It follows a push by Conservative MPs including Alok Sharma, chair of the international climate summit COP26 in Glasgow two years ago, and former prime minister Liz Truss. a move.

Proponents of onshore wind power argue that it is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy, will improve energy security and help the UK meet its legally binding net-zero emissions target by 2050.

Under current rules, an onshore wind farm in England could be blocked if only one local protester opposes the project. The new rules are expected to change that.

However, it remains to be seen whether the amendment will go far enough to satisfy Tory rebels and industry, with critics warning the technology will still face more planning constraints than others.

“It’s important to know the details that the government has put forward in the ministerial statement,” Sharma told BBC Radio 4. today program.

“We’re in a situation where it takes just one objection to stop a wind farm from being built . . . I don’t think that’s a smart way for the planning system to work.”

The government’s move comes after Sharma proposed amendments to the energy bill that were backed by about 20 Conservative MPs, including Truss. “We need a sensible and balanced approach to this problem,” he added.

Ministers will say they have been consulting on the changes for months at the behest of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Yet the government also hopes to quell a potential backbench rebellion by Sharma and others.

Shortly after Cameron won the 2015 election, he changed the planning system to prevent the development of onshore wind farms. According to the UK renewable energy trade body, just two new turbines were built in the UK last year.

He also excluded the technology from the government’s low-carbon electricity subsidy system, although it was allowed last year and several farms in Scotland won contracts.

Many Conservative MPs and a large number of party members are opposed to the technology amid a backlash from local communities concerned about the impact of wind turbines on the rural landscape.

To strengthen support, the government is also exploring ways to ensure that people who live near wind turbines benefit more directly from wind turbines, for example through payment of community utility charges or electricity discounts.

Downing Street said on Monday the government would support wind farms with “local support”, insisting applications would still be decided at local level.

“We have consulted on technical changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, which will help support communities moving forward with onshore wind projects,” a spokesman said. “We will respond to these consultations shortly.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *