Rishi Sunak says 'no' to onshore wind turbines in August
Wind power has been at the forefront of the UK’s effort to decarbonise its energy supply by 2035.
For the first time last year, turbines met over a quarter (26.8 percent) of the country’s electricity generation needs.
While offshore plants are coming online at record pace, however, the onshore sector has stalled since 2015, when then-Prime Minister David Cameron changed the law to make it possible for a single opponent to block their construction.
Since then, data from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show 79 onshore wind farm plans have been rejected by local planning authorities.
According to the Telegraph, up to 50 of these thrown-out bids could benefit from a new lease of life if planning laws are changed.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak to ‘overturn onshore windfarm ban’ bowing to party pressure
When he became Prime Minister last year, Rishi Sunak said he would keep the ban in place. Already facing a rebellion back in December, he was forced to reverse his position and promised to relax the rules by the end of April. With nothing changed as of September, he faces mutiny once again.
Former COP26 president Sir Alok Sharma, leading a group of 25 Tory MPs including former Prime Minister Liz Truss, tabled an amendment to the Energy Bill that would rip up the old rules.
Having just returned from summer break, MPs are considering the tweaked bill in the Commons on Tuesday. With Labour support, Government opposition would be defeated.
Information on the status of onshore wind projects is made publicly available by Barbour ABI. Express.co.uk has mapped the projects ripe for renewal below.
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While 12 of these were in England, five in Wales and five in Northern Ireland, the remaining 57 were in Scotland.
Dan McGrail, the chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “We’re not going to see investment into new onshore wind at the scale needed to rapidly cut bills and boost energy security.
“While industry will work with Government to see how these changes might be able to support a limited number of new developments, this is a missed opportunity to reinvigorate onshore wind in England after eight years of lost progress.”
The UK is currently a world leader in offshore wind. According to the National Grid, the country’s “exposed position in the north-east Atlantic makes it one of the best locations in the world for wind power,” with the “shallow waters of the North Sea” an area ripe for hosting wind farms.
Over 350 offshore turbines came online in 2022, adding enough to power an extra 3.4 million UK homes. Just two turbines were built on land in England last year.
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