The UK renewables sector gave a warm – but still cautious – welcome to news that a “seven-year anomaly” that effectively banned new onshore wind farms in England finally looks to be on the way out.

The government of Rishi Sunak signalled a consultation over reform to the draconian planning laws that have restricted development in the UK’s largest nation since being introduced under a previous Conservative Prime Minister in 2015.

The news was hailed as a breakthrough in a long campaign to remove a senseless roadblock to the cheapest, quickest to deploy source of new green power, but industry commentators said the detail of the revision would be crucial.

There was also an element of ‘believe it when we see it’, given that there have been several false dawns over lifting of the rules previously – not least when Sunak’s short-lived predecessor, Liz Truss, made the same commitment a few months ago.

Frank Elsworth, head of UK onshore development at Vattenfall, said: "If this is a genuine move which will put onshore wind on a level playing field with other infrastructure in England, it will send a very positive signal that the government is serious about harnessing the benefits which onshore development can unleash for the environment, the economy, and communities.”

Jess Ralston, head of energy at think-tank the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) added: “The ban on onshore wind has been a seven-year anomaly in UK energy policy, keeping household bills higher and the UK more dependent on foreign gas. Whether deployment speeds up will now come down to the detail of the planning rule changes.”

Industry group RenewableUK, which has long campaigned to have the ban overturned – and has published regular opinion polls showing the support for onshore wind among the UK public – said it will engage with the government over the detail of the changes.

“Lifting the de facto ban will mean we can generate more cheap power to help hard-pressed billpayers and cut our dependence on gas,” said CEO Dan McGrail. “Creating a level playing-field for onshore wind will boost our energy security while ensuring there is local support for new projects.”