February 26, 2024

No new plans for onshore wind have been accepted in England since the government claimed it “lifted” the de facto ban.reveals new analysis.

Renewable energy organizations warned at the time that this was likely. Despite equalization secretary Michael Gove changing the planning rules introduced by then prime minister David Cameron in 2015 to prevent onshore wind projects being blocked by a single objection, they facing ever higher barriers than every other form of infrastructure, including waste incinerators.

Analysis of the government’s renewable energy planning database shows that no applications for new onshore wind projects have been submitted since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed the government would overturn the onshore wind ban in September 2023.

At that time the National Infrastructure Commission advised the government to go further and restore onshore wind to the government’s Nationally Important Infrastructure Projects process, which will encourage more applications.

The government rejected this recommendation and said the measures announced in September were enough.

Analysis by Carbon Brief estimated that if onshore wind had continued to be built at the same rate it was in 2017 – before the ban came into effect – 7GW of onshore wind would have been built. This would have knocked £5.1 billion off energy bills, or £182 for every UK household, in the year from July 2022 to June 2023.

Greenpeace UK policy director Doug Parr said: “As predicted, the government’s futile planning tweaks have amounted to absolutely nothing and the de facto ban is still well and truly in place. Why would a developer risk putting their cash behind a project that is still bound by woolly guidelines and the unworkable decisions made by some local councils?

“Wind on land is the cheapest, fastest and greenest way to produce energy. Increasing production will lower energy bills, reduce emissions and strengthen the UK’s energy security. We need to build them wherever it makes sense to generate. But as things stand, you’re more likely to see a flying pig than a new onshore wind farm in the UK.”

Ed Miliband, the shadow energy secretary, said a Labor government would end the effective ban on onshore wind.

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“Every household in Britain is paying higher energy bills because of Rishi Sunak’s staggering failure to end the onshore wind ban,” he said. “The Conservatives have artificially inflated energy bills and are making the UK’s energy system dependent on fossil fuel dictators, because they oppose ridiculously cheap, clean power for our country.

A spokesperson for the leveling department said: “We have updated the national planning policy framework to make it easier and faster for onshore wind projects to come forward, where there is local support. These changes will take time to take effect, but will ultimately pave the way for more projects, while ensuring that the views of the community are taken into account.”

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