News Release from RenewableUK


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Government’s planning reforms fail to bring back onshore wind in England

RenewableUK has responded to the Government’s consultation on how to reform the planning system to bring back onshore wind in England by pointing out that the new proposals by Ministers do almost nothing to remove the current de facto ban.

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In RenewableUK’s submission to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on its Levelling Up and Regenerations Bill which includes amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework, we state that: “we are highly concerned that the Government is not doing enough to remove the barriers preventing onshore wind from being rapidly deployed and it is our view that the amendments proposed to the National Planning Policy Framework will not enable the deployment of onshore wind in England”.

In our submission, we warn that “there is therefore a fundamental disconnect between Governmental net zero ambitions and the practicalities of the National Planning Policy Framework for enabling onshore wind. If the Government is serious about its commitment to net zero and security of supply ambitions, then there must be a clear ambition for national deployment targets for onshore wind and a policy framework supportive in place to deliver on these commitments. Without this, it is difficult to see how the proposals will enable any significant difference”.

The industry is calling for Ministers to reverse two specific measures introduced in 2015 which were designed to stop nearly all new onshore wind projects going ahead in England.

Under the draconian system, no onshore wind farm can go ahead unless the relevant local authority has drawn up a detailed local plan which identifies all areas would be suitable of onshore wind development. In practice only 11% of local authorities have had the time, resources or the inclination to do so. Also, if just one person objects to an onshore wind farm planning application it can be rejected by the local authority. Only two small onshore wind turbines were installed in England last year.

Unfortunately, the Government’s proposed new planning rules state that local plans showing areas suitable for wind energy development must still be drawn up, and the wording on community consent remains so broad that one person could potentially still object to a project to stop it going ahead. So the risk to potential investors of supporting onshore wind in England remains high. We suggest in our submission that it should be the responsibility of developers and community groups to work together to identify suitable areas for wind farms - expecting local authorities to do it will delay our ability to take vital action against climate change.

The only positive proposals in the document are on repowering - replacing older turbines with modern ones which are even more efficient. The Government agrees with the industry that this should be encouraged, to stop us losing the onshore wind capacity we already have when projects come to the end of their natural lifespan after generating for 25 years.

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. 

“We’re urging the Government to work with us to develop a level playing field so that we can compete fairly against other forms of power generation - the Government’s proposals still prevent that, even though Ministers have pledged to reverse the ban on onshore wind in England. We want to ensure that local people feel the economic benefit of new projects fully in their local area - including the option for local electricity discount schemes where communities want them. We strongly believe that the Government should focus on ensuring that community engagement is carried out well by the industry rather than trying to create arbitrary tests or metrics which will only give a partial impression of local opinion”.

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RenewableUK, onshore, governmenmt, plan, consultation, planning system, reform, Egland, Minister, wind farm, capacity, wind project

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