Ban on onshore wind to be lifted as rebellion builds

The government has pledged to lift the de-facto ban on onshore wind farms in a policy U-turn after pressure from backbenchers.

Under the proposals new windfarms will be built if it can be proven there is ‘local support’ for projects, allowing councils to no longer be restricted to using pre-designated land.

A consultation on the relaxed planning rules will begin later this month, with the outcome to be included in the National Planning Policy Framework by April 2023.

white electric windmills during daytime

Reports suggest the move was to counter a planned rebellion of 30 backbenchers who were upset with Rishi Sunak’s pledge to block new wind farms.

Former minister Simon Clarke led the revolt after he tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill which would have removed the ban on onshore wind, a move which had support from Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Clarke called the proposed planning reform a ‘really sensible package’ and MPs are now hopeful the bill can be advanced, after being at a standstill since the amendment.

This is the second U-turn by Sunak in the past few days, as the government has also dropped housebuilding targets.

Green MP Caroline Lucas warned this could be a move to distract from the government’s decision on a proposed coal mine in Cumbria, which is due by tomorrow. She tweeted: ‘If this Govt decision really marks the end of almost decade-long onshore wind ban, it’s certainly a welcome one. The devil is in the detail. But if this is meant to “buy off” giving the greenlight to the Cumbria coal mine later this week, it would be totally & utterly shameless.’

Renewable energy is highly popular in the UK, with a 2021 government public attitude survey finding 80% of Brits support onshore wind and just 4% oppose it. Solar is the most popular form of clean energy – 90% of the public said they supported solar projects.

Photo by Luca Bravo


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