In April 2023, many constituents got in touch with me regarding onshore wind provision in the UK and Scotland. You can read my response to them below.
Planning is a devolved issue and constituents may want to contact their MSP for information on onshore wind provision in Scotland.
Onshore wind is the cheapest, cleanest source of energy we have. Yet, since 2015 the Government has effectively banned new developments in England through its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), keeping bills high and damaging our energy security.
During the passage of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill through the House of Commons last year, several amendments that would have removed the block on onshore wind in the NPPF were considered. Unfortunately, none of these amendments were passed. Instead, the Government committed to consulting on ensuring local support for onshore wind, including changes to national planning policy.
I was concerned at the time that the Government’s announcement of a consultation represented a failure to properly lift the ban or provide clarity. I believed it meant simply further delay and the continued denial to Britain, in the middle of an energy crisis, of lower energy bills and improved energy security. And indeed, when the Government published its consultation, the proposals it put forward were met with bitter disappointment by the renewable energy industry, which said they would do “almost nothing” to remove the ban.
If the Government is serious about cutting bills, strengthening our security, creating good jobs, growing our economy and tackling the climate crisis, it needs to end the ban, bring consenting for onshore wind in line with other infrastructure and support councils in proactively identifying local opportunities for onshore wind deployment. And more widely, I believe we need to double our onshore wind capacity as part of a plan to make Britain a clean energy superpower, with a zero-carbon electricity system by 2030. I can therefore assure you that I will continue to support efforts to press the Government on this issue.
Keir Starmer has said the Opposition would end the ban on onshore wind in the NPPF as part of a plan to make the UK “a clean energy superpower” and In March 2023, Ed Miliband stated that “if the Government really wanted a sprint for clean power, it would go for onshore wind”, but noted that the proposals in its consultation had been described by the industry as doing “almost nothing” to lift the ban. This referred to statements from the industry association RenewableUK, which stated that it was “bitterly disappointed that Ministers are doing almost nothing to lift the draconian ban on onshore wind projects in England”. We have also called for the Government to bring the planning regime for onshore wind into line with other infrastructure.