Community-backed onshore wind projects to be given approval more quickly under new government rules – but who will build them?

Onshore wind projects which are supported by local people will be approved more quickly in England, under new measures being brought forward by the Government.

Streamlined planning rules now mean that local areas will have a greater say in how onshore wind projects should be considered, which the Government says will “ultimately result in electricity bill savings and increased national energy security.”

The new measures include broadening the ways that suitable locations can be identified and speeding up the process of allocating sites by giving alternatives to the local plan process.  It is hoped that this will ensure the whole community has a say, “not just a small number of objectors.”

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said:

“To increase our energy security and develop a cleaner, greener economy, we are introducing new measures to allow local communities to back onshore wind power projects.

“This will only apply in areas where developments have community support, but these changes will help build on Britain’s enormous success as a global leader in offshore wind, helping us on our journey to Net Zero.”

Communities which back local wind farms could also benefit from cheaper energy under new proposals which aim to incentivise more projects. The changes to the rules follow a government consultation. 

In its response, the Government said:

“Communities are able to bring forward proposals for onshore wind – planning policy will be changed to make clear onshore wind developments can be identified in several ways rather than through local plans. This includes through Local Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.”

It went to say that:

“Councils should consider the views of the whole community, rather than a small minority, when considering a planning application. This includes addressing the planning impact of onshore wind projects as identified by local communities.”

However, reports in The Times and The Guardian last Friday revealed that there have been no applications from industry to build new offshore windfarms following the latest government auction. The news came as no surprise to many leading renewable energy developers who had previously warned ministers that the annual auction was set too low to reflect rising costs.

Speaking to The Guardian, Keith Anderson, the chief executive of ScottishPower, said:

“This is a multibillion-pound lost opportunity to deliver low-cost energy for consumers and a wake-up call for government.

“We all want the same thing – to get more secure, low-cost green offshore wind built in our waters. ScottishPower is in the business of building windfarms and our track record is second to none in terms of getting projects over the line when others haven’t been able to. But the economics simply did not stand up this time around.”

This latest blow comes as the Energy Bill returns to Parliament. Ministers says that “the Bill will provide a cleaner, more affordable, and ore secure energy system that is fit for the future.”

The Government will respod in full to the National Planning Policy Framework later this year.


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