Onshore wind has been handed a boost today (5 September) via changes to the planning system introduced by the UK government.
Under the changes, which are effective immediately, onshore wind projects supported by local citizens will be approved more quickly in England, easing a de facto ban on new onshore wind developments – a measure that has been in place since 2015 and has been heavily criticised by the energy industry since its introduction.
The new measures include broadening the ways that suitable locations can be identified (including by communities) and speeding up the process of allocating sites by giving alternatives to the local planning process.
The government stated that this will “ensure the whole community has a say, not just a small number of objectors – paving the way for more onshore wind projects to come online where they have community support”.
“To increase our energy security and develop a cleaner, greener economy, we are introducing new measures to allow local communities to back onshore wind power projects,” said the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.
“This will only apply in areas where developments have community support, but these changes will help build on Britain’s enormous success as a global leader in offshore wind, helping us on our journey to net zero.”
Research by RenewableUK highlighted how big a hinderance the previous planning restrictions were 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 newly appointed secretary of state for energy secretary and net zero, Claire Coutinho said: “The Energy Bill is the most significant piece of energy legislation in a generation and will help us provide a cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy system for the UK.
“Renewables are a crucial part of our energy transition. They accounted for just 7% of our electricity generation in 2010, and almost 48% in the first quarter of this year. The UK is already home to the world’s four largest offshore wind farms, and we have invested and made available over £1 billion for Sizewell C – the first direct state backing of a nuclear project in over 30 years.
“Onshore wind also has a key role to play and these changes will help speed up the delivery of projects where local communities want them.”
Current± publisher Solar Media is hosting the third edition of its Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit Europe in London this 19-20 September. The conference will focus on investment strategies, alleviating bottlenecks, and which countries and technologies are the most exciting ahead as the industry sets to expand to help reach 2030 targets.
Packed with industry leaders representing financiers, investors, developers, government departments and more this is the leading conference for decision makers in the European wind industry. More information, including how to attend, can be read here.