Not-for-profit organisation Good Law Project is set to take legal action against the UK government over its policy on onshore wind planning rules in England.
With the new National Policy Statements for energy infrastructure coming into force earlier this year – a topic covered on our sister site Solar Power Portal – questions have been raised on the government’s stance on onshore wind.
Its lack of inclusion now sees Good Law Project set to take legal action to force Ministers to explain why they’ve excluded onshore wind from the list of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) and to put onshore wind “back into the government’s renewable energy policy”.
The government’s stance on onshore wind has been debated and critiqued for years. A de facto ban on new developments was put in place by the Conservative government in 2015 – something that the energy industry has heavily criticised.
Late last year, the government announced plans to “ease” the de facto ban with new changes to the planning system. But these changes have led to no new projects being developed between the announcement and December 2023, the Good Law Project said.
It is also worth noting that the National Infrastructure Commission recommended last year that “onshore wind should be included in the revised energy National Policy Statement and brought back within the scope of the Planning Act 2008” so that it could be fast-tracked through the planning process.
England’s onshore wind sector has been severely dampened by the de facto ban
Research by RenewableUK conducted last year highlighted how big a hindrance the planning restrictions have been to the development of onshore wind in England. According to the trade association, only one onshore wind project (comprising of two wind turbines) was built in England in 2022, compared to six in Scotland.
This meant that of the total 318MW of onshore wind capacity installed in the UK last year, only 1MW was installed in England.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) also claimed in 2023 that the English planning system is “not fit for purpose” and found that it would take 4,700 years for England to reach the onshore wind capacity called for by government advisers at the current rate of development.