Ex-UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has teamed up with 20 other MPs from the governing Conservative Party to try and overturn a de facto ban on new onshore wind farms in England.
Former COP26 president Alok Sharma has tabled an amendment to the UK government’s energy bill to scrap an existing rule that has almost totally stopped new projects advancing since it was introduced by the Conservatives in 2015.
Sharma’s amendment says it “aims to remove the current planning restriction that a single objection to an onshore wind development is sufficient to block the development”.
The amendment calls for guidance on how wind developers can provide “financial benefits” to local residents. Sharma also wants to ensure that local decisions made on onshore wind cannot be overturned on appeal.
Co-signatories include Simon Clarke, former levelling up minister, who himself sought to overturn the ban last year by tabling a similar amendment. Other notable names include former Conservative party chairman Sir Jake Berry and former chief whip Wendy Morton.
Sharma tweeted that the government “committed to change the planning rules by the end of April 2023 to overturn the de facto ban on onshore wind – this has not happened.”
The amendment will therefore help the government “deliver on its own promise,” said Sharma, as well as helping to “unlock investment in one of the cheapest forms of energy and ultimately bring down household bills and improve the UK’s energy security”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak raised hopes last year that he would raise the restrictions. However proposed planning rule changes in March left the UK wind industry “bitterly disappointed”.
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, whose party is currently ahead in the opinion polls with a general election due next year, recently fleshed out his own plans on the issue, saying he would immediately lift the ban and require local authorities to “proactively identify” areas suitable for renewable power generation such as wind and solar.
The Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit has estimated the ban on onshore wind cost UK billpayers £800m ($1bn) last winter in the midst of the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.