Industry welcomes decision to lift onshore wind ban

Image by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Chancellor Rachel Reeves’ decision to scrap the onshore wind farm ban has been welcome by industry. 

While outlining the government’s plans for economic growth, she said she was ending the “absurd” ban. 

She said government would go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, meaning decisions on large developments will be taken nationally not locally.

Priority would also be given to energy projects in the system to ensure they make swift progress, with government building on the Spatial plan for Energy by expanding this to other infrastructure sectors.  

In 2015, David Cameron's government published a planning update which said wind turbines should only get the go-ahead if they have been clearly backed by local people in a Local or Neighbourhood Plan. In practice this has often been interpreted to mean that any opposition means the proposal cannot be considered acceptable.

Renewable energy trade association, RenewableUK, said lifting the onshore wind ban in England was “long overdue” and it was “delighted” that Labour has made this one of its first priorities.

Chief executive Dan McGrail said: “This shows that the new government is determined to act fast to tackle some of the longstanding barriers which have held the UK back on developing vital new clean energy infrastructure. 

"Public support for onshore wind remains sky-high throughout the UK at 78% according to the latest official polling, as billpayers know that new wind farms provide electricity at very low cost, as well as strengthening our energy security and tackling climate change. 

"Polling also shows that most people want to see the planning system reformed, as they’re frustrated that an onshore wind farm proposal which is overwhelmingly popular in a local area can be stopped by just a handful of opponents.

"The onshore wind industry is committed to ensuring that communities are properly consulted about any proposals, including the wide range of economic benefits they will bring to local people. 

“This process can take several years, including measures which help ensure that wildlife is protected, so it will be some time before brand new projects go ahead in England.

"Modern turbines are substantially more efficient and powerful than the turbines built in previous decades, so doubling the UK’s onshore wind capacity by 2030 won’t mean doubling the number of turbines in the UK.

"We can generate more power from fewer new turbines, and we can replace older turbines with far more powerful ones, making the most of our superb natural wind resources. Our research shows that delivering 30 gigawatts of onshore wind by the end of the decade would boost the economy by £45bn and create 27,000 jobs.”

Sophie Lee, transmission and distribution director at Stantec, also welcomed the news - but said there was still much work to be done.

“With onshore wind power being an essential piece in Britain’s low carbon energy puzzle, it’s reassuring to see immediate progress being made to streamline development," she said.

"There are, however, key challenges we need to address simultaneously as the new Government looks to double onshore capacity by 2030. 

“The rapid requirement for new grid connections across the country is arguably one of the most significant hurdles. We must ensure our energy network has the capacity for huge increases in power from these new sources. Not only from new onshore wind developments, but from other green energy generation sources as well. 

“We need the overhead lines, cable routes, substations and ancillary infrastructure to pass through the planning and consenting process at a supportive rate. There’s no point being on a new train if the old tracks can’t cope. Our energy security relies on a proactive, long-term approach that quickly increases our grid’s capacity and future-proofs the network.”


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