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RenewableUK, charities call for government to boost onshore wind through planning reforms

Octopus Energy's Fan Club model offers consumers living near wind turbines cheaper energy bills. Image: Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy's Fan Club model offers consumers living near wind turbines cheaper energy bills. Image: Octopus Energy

RenewableUK and a selection of charities have separately called for the government to enact planning reforms to support onshore wind.

RenewableUK said the UK could more than double its total onshore wind capacity from 14GW now to 30GW by 2030, which would add £45 billion to the economy and support 27,000 jobs.

However, the current planning system in England blocks nearly all development of new onshore wind projects, the trade association said, with the industry predicting growth of 0.7GW between now and 2030 in the country if no revisions are made, from 2.9GW to 3.6GW.

“It’s right that across the UK, we should look again at the planning system to make it fit for purpose, so that it doesn’t stand in the way of communities embracing onshore wind or leave applications delayed for years,” RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail said.

The trade association is also urging the Scottish government to continue to make progress on its Onshore Wind Policy Statement and planning reforms “as a matter of urgency”. It stated that the majority of the UK’s new onshore wind projects will be located in the country given the significantly higher wind resource.

The Scottish government is expected to set a target of up to 12GW of new onshore wind to meet its climate change targets, with 8.6GW already operational in the country.

Meanwhile, a group of charities led by Possible and including Greenpeace, the Wildlife Trusts and Friends of the Earth have written to the government to also call for planning reforms to unblock onshore wind.

This would help protect the UK’s energy security and climate, the charities said, with the high energy prices currently “causing huge concern to UK consumers and businesses”.

The government has stressed the need to reduce reliance on global gas, while prime minister Boris Johnson recently announced plans for a new energy strategy in response to the volatility of gas and power prices seen following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The letter also called on the government to build a secure, low-carbon energy system that ensures there is enough renewable electricity capacity included each year in the Contracts for Difference auctions, that there is a route to market for community energy projects and that Ofgem has a zero-carbon mandate.

Alethea Warrington, campaigner at climate charity Possible, said: “It beggars belief that, as people are facing an unprecedented spike in energy costs that could push millions into poverty, ministers are still blocking one of the cheapest forms of energy.

“It’s beyond time to end reliance on gas and start powering our lives with our abundant domestic renewable energy resources.”

The charities also pointed to the strong public support for onshore wind. Indeed, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) public attitudes tracker from autumn 2021 showed 80% of the public are supportive of onshore wind.

Additionally, a recent survey of 2,000 UK energy bill payers commissioned by Octopus Energy found that 87% of people support having a wind turbine in their postcode area if it means half-price electricity - with Octopus Energy’s Fan Club tariff offering consumers living near wind turbines cheaper electricity.

There are currently two local wind turbines on this model so far, with Octopus planning to build at least 30 more in the next two years and 1,000 across the country by 2030.


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