UK prepares for major onshore u-turn

In a move which would prove a major boost the UK’s renewables sector, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is revoking the ban on building new onshore wind farms.

Ministers are preparing to introduce amendments to planning rules that will allow councils give the green light to wind projects where there is broad public support.

The proposal to scrap the ban on new offshore wind was put forward by MP Alok Sharma back in July and has since attracted support from fellow Conservatives including former prime minister Liz Truss.

The government’s Labour opposition has also supported the amendment, meaning only six more Conservative backbenchers would need back it to overturn Sunak’s majority.

According to reports, ministers had been locked in talks with MPs for almost a week over a compromise deal to avoid a defeat in the UK Parliament’s House of Commons.

Reacting to the news, BayWa r.e UK managing director John Milligan said: “We are encouraged to see this recent development and are pleased that the UK government recognises onshore wind as an essential contributor towards meeting the government’s 2035 decarbonised electricity system goals.

“This, however, will only be achieved if amendments to NPPF are sufficient to truly remove the de facto ban of onshore wind in England.

“Onshore wind farms provide low cost, environmentally friendly, and domestically produced electricity, and by unlocking new projects in England, the sector will also create a variety of different jobs and stimulate more investment into the UK energy market.

“Overturning the wind farm ban along with the ongoing programme of connections reform will, in the long term, strengthen the UK’s position within the global energy industry transition.”

Sir Alok added: “The Government committed to change planning rules by the end of April 2023 to overturn the de facto ban on onshore wind, but this has not happened to date.”

“This amendment therefore seeks merely to deliver on the Government’s own promise and help to unlock investment in one of the cheapest forms of energy, and ultimately bring down household bills and improve the UK’s energy security.”