The UK government has reversed course on its ban on onshore wind and now says that turbines could be constructed, provided local populations accept the projects.
In order to better understand how councils can show local support and respond to the interests of their communities when contemplating onshore wind development in England, the Department for Levelling Up has opened a consultation. Additionally, if locals approve of wind farms being built nearby, they may also experience decreased energy costs.
Under David Cameron’s leadership, onshore wind turbines were essentially prohibited since he refused to include them in the government’s green energy incentives.
When questioned about his stance during the summertime Tory leadership contest, the current prime minister, Rishi Sunak, stated to Sky News that he supported the ban. But since he assumed power, there has been a mounting revolt on the Tory opposition benches pushing for it to be lifted.
In order to permit new onshore wind projects in England, former housing secretary Simon Clarke received the support of 35 MPs, including former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
Others in the party, though, are said to have written to Mr. Sunak and urged him to uphold the ban. The government has already changed its mandated objective of having 300,000 new homes built annually in an effort to assure the bill’s passage. The bill is due again in the Commons soon.
The government recognises the range of opinions in the party, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove wrote in a letter to MPs, but he added that they believe that choices on onshore wind are best taken by elected reps who know their areas best and are backed by democratic accountability. According to the suggestions, planning clearance would be based on a project being capable of demonstrating local support and correctly resolving any consequences identified by the local community, according to a statement from the department.
The report said, local authorities would also have to show their support for specific regions as being suited for onshore wind, shifting away from tight criteria for locations to be identified in local plans. The department added that some safeguards would continue to exist, such as the prohibition of turbines in national parks and the Green Belt.
The government would still seek ideas on building local partnerships for supporting communities, so that those who choose to host new onshore wind technology can profit from doing so, for example, through cheaper energy bills as part of the consultation, as stated by the government.
According to the statement, the policy choice followed good engagement with MPs.
And the rebel leader, Mr. Clarke, expressed his great satisfaction at the reasonable arrangement that had been struck. Campaigners and energy companies applauded the shift in thinking as well. Octopus Energy claimed that the elimination of red tape would lessen the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.
However, Lisa Nandy of Labour charged that ministers were in office but not in power, claiming that they were put into this situation because they couldn’t withstand another backbench uprising after previously caving in to their MPs’ demands about housing targets. They need to see the details, but if it’s some type of dodge that puts in place an extremely restrictive system for onshore wind—the cheapest, cleanest form of power—it will continue to deprive Britain of cheaper energy costs and increased energy security amid an energy crisis, said one expert.
Wera Hobhouse, a member of parliament for the Liberal Democrats, claimed the government had dragged its feet for years on the matter, but she also wondered if the U-turn went that far.
Even this U-turn, she claimed, would make starting onshore wind projects too challenging. They raise the possibility of an ongoing de facto ban on onshore wind because renewable energy producers will have to overcome hurdles.