If the UK government really has finally lifted a de facto ban on new onshore wind in England – and after numerous false dawns, a heavy dose of scepticism is still in order – then we can finally tear down a monument to energy policy stupidity.
It began as a crowd-pleasing bone to the Conservative Party faithful by Britain’s last Prime Minister-but-three David Cameron to help him win the 2015 general election. It turned into an eight-year self-inflicted wound in the British energy system, leaving the UK’s largest nation unable to add the cheapest and quickest-to-deploy source of zero-carbon capacity due to draconian planning rules.
Eight wasted years in which gigawatts of green power could have been added had their genesis in a campaign early last decade by the climate-sceptic right of the British media to halt the march of turbines that threatened to turn England’s green and pleasant land into a sinister, rotating mass of giant steel “monsters”.
Most unforgivably, in the view of the commentators of the Telegraph and others of that ilk, many of the machines were made in Germany, part of a European racket by European companies to gobble up the subsidies of the hard-working English taxpayer.
These pundits somehow managed to turn the issue of energy infrastructure into a cross between the War of the Worlds and the Battle of Britain, with an early pinch of Brexit in the mix too.
The biggest irony of this shamelessly populist policy is that there is no evidence that it has ever been popular, beyond the tiny but vocal minority that conjured it into Cameron’s 2015 election manifesto and consigned that ill-fated Prime Minister’s earlier pledge to lead “Britain’s greenest ever government” to the history books.
Opinion poll after poll in the run up to the 2015 election showed that the people of England not only failed to share the Telegraph’s horror at onshore wind but actively embraced the prospect of more turbines. Poll after poll taken since has confirmed the same, even among the Conservative voters the whole sorry exercise was supposed to appeal to.
None of this is to say that moving to a more realistic planning regime for onshore wind, if that's what today's announcement brings about, will mark the end of the controversy and conflict that can accompany any major infrastructure plan, as the furore over onshore grid works for North Sea offshore wind proves.
But it will hopefully put onshore wind on a sensible footing where projects can be approved but also rejected, as the saner planning environment of Scotland has shown.
Above all, we should ponder the circumstances of how the obsessions of a minority of a minority for almost a decade stopped a nation of almost 60 million from achieving its full energy transition potential.