Government reforms not enough to revive onshore wind, says renewable body

Proposed planning reforms are not enough to bring back onshore wind farms, a renewable body and several charities have warned.  

A government consultation into the planning system, evaluating how the planning system could support renewable energy developments, ended this week. 

Onshore wind is currently facing a de facto ban, with just 16 new turbines granted planning permission in England between 2016 and 2020.  

RenewableUK responded to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities consultation saying that the new proposals didn’t go far enough to remove barriers. 

two white wind turbines

RenewableUK’s Head of Onshore Wind James Robottom said: ‘We’re bitterly disappointed that Ministers are doing almost nothing to lift the draconian ban on onshore wind projects in England, even though it’s one of our cheapest sources of new power and every poll consistently shows that it has sky-high levels of public support, including among Conservative voters. 

‘As they stand, the proposed changes do not give the industry, communities or businesses the confidence to start investing in onshore wind in England again from a completely standing start. The fact is that there is no ambition for onshore wind in these proposals, which means that consumers are losing out on cheap electricity and communities are being denied opportunities for thousands of new jobs and billions in private investment.’  

RenewableUK is calling for two specific measures introduced in 2015 to be reversed, as currently no onshore wind can go ahead unless a local authority has drawn up a local plan identifying all areas suitable for onshore wind development.  

Only 11% of local authorities have the time and resources to do so and if only on person objects, a planning application can be rejected.  

However, proposed new planning rules state that these local plans will still be required and one objector to an onshore wind farm could still block a development from being built.  

RenewableUK says the risk to investors remains high under these plans and suggests developers and community groups should work together to identify suitable areas for wind farms, rather than placing the onus on local authorities.  

Several organisations are also calling for the end to the onshore wind de facto ban, with 100 NGOs, business leaders and public figures signing an open letter to the government.  

Photo by Jason Blackeye


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