Onshore wind farm rules to change – could one end up on your doorstep?


Onshore wind farm rules to change - could one end up on your doorstep?

Building onshore wind farms is set to become easier as the government relaxes an effective ban on new projects.

The government is expected to announce changes to the rules on Tuesday that will come into force with immediate effect.

So could a wind farm end up on your doorstep? Sky News explains.

What will the new wind farm rules be?

Lifting the ban doesn’t mean you can expect to suddenly see wind turbines popping up on every spare inch of green space.

Proposals for wind farms will still need to show they have local support.

The difference is that until now, plans had to have complete agreement. That meant a single objection could stop plans for a new wind farm in their tracks.

That restriction – which had been considered to amount to a de facto ban – will be lifted under the new rules.

The rule changes are laid out in an amendment to the Energy Bill submitted by former COP26 president Sir Alok Sharma, who has led Tory backbench pressure over the issue.

The new rules also ban appeals on decisions made about onshore wind to ensure local wishes are respected.

What benefits will communities get from having a local wind farm?

If communities agree to having wind farms in their area, they could end up with lower energy bills.

Ensuring communities get direct benefits is a focus of the changes – but exactly what they will look like is not yet clear.

What are the current rules?

The current rules, introduced under David Cameron in 2015, require councils to draw up detailed plans showing all the areas suitable for onshore wind development before new wind farms can go ahead.

They also mean that proposals can be blocked if just a single person objects to them.

Just 16 new turbines were granted planning permission between 2016-2020, a fall of 96% on the 435 granted between 2011-2015, according to Cardiff University analysis of government data.

Onshore wind farm rules to change - could one end up on your doorstep?

Why the change?

Calls for ending the ban have grown amid efforts to secure the UK’s energy independence as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has squeezed supplies.

During Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign, he pledged to keep the onshore wind farm ban in place.

But there has been a growing rebellion on the Tory backbenches since he took power calling for it to be lifted.

The first signs of a U-turn came in November, and shortly after the Department for Levelling Up launched a consultation on local support for onshore wind.

In July, Sir Alok formally proposed an amendment to the Energy Bill, which was signed by more than 20 backbench Conservatives, including ex-prime minister Liz Truss.

The amendment is being debated on Tuesday and it is understood the government will then make an announcement in the form of a written ministerial statement.

How do people feel about onshore wind?

A YouGov poll in April found 63% of people who voted Conservative in the last general election had a “favourable” view of onshore wind and 68% said they would support new onshore wind in their area.


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