For nearly a decade, there has been a ban on new onshore wind in England. But right now, the government is considering lifting unfair planning blocks on wind - and they want to know what you think.Will you tell the government you want wind power? Sign today to tell the government to finally unblock wind.
I am contacting you to submit my individual response to the consultation on the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill reforms to national planning policy. My response is to Chapter 8 of the consultation, on onshore wind.
We are facing the increasingly harmful impacts of the climate crisis and the energy costs crisis, both of which are caused by ongoing use of fossil fuels. Serious damage is being caused to our climate, the environment, nature, the UK's economy, society and communities and to people around the world by the failure to end reliance on dirty energy and move to a future powered by clean, cheap and secure renewables.
I support the government's proposal to remove the current virtual block on new onshore wind in England by updating the National Planning Policy Framework. However, I am concerned that the restrictions which would remain in planning policy under the proposed redrafting are still far too heavy, and will fail to allow the expansion of clean energy we urgently need. The government must ensure that the changes allow sufficient new onshore wind to come forwards to support the crucial goal of ending gas power generation as quickly as possible, and ending the high energy costs driven by gas prices which are causing so much misery.
Onshore wind is incredibly popular across the UK, eight in ten people supporting it, including strong support in every constituency. There is no need to maintain a separate planning regime for onshore wind, with restrictions which apply only to wind power and not to any other type of infrastructure (including new fossil fuel projects, which have very little public support). The planning regime therefore should stop placing greater restrictions on new onshore wind, which is clean and popular, than on new drilling or mining for oil, gas or coal, which are polluting, dangerous, unpopular and unneeded. Instead, I would like to see new onshore wind treated in the same way as any other type of local planning application. This means removing, rather than amending, the existing Footnote 54, and ensuring that the new planning regulations pass the vital test of supporting and facilitating communities which want onshore wind to actually get it.
My answers to the relevant questions in the consultation are as follows:
Q.41: Do you agree with the changes proposed to Paragraph 155 of the existing National Planning Policy Framework?
I support ensuring that the NPPF facilitates repowering and encourages local authorities, developers and community energy groups to ensure that this happens. Repowering is clearly necessary, cost-effective and beneficial. While I agree that it is useful for local plans to address repowering and that local authorities should be encouraged to do this, this local plan process might not be done more often than every five years, and local authorities may not have the time, resources or expertise to include repowering in their plans. Inclusion in a local plan therefore should not be a requirement without which repowering cannot go ahead. In addition, it is not clear what the requirement to address impacts "satisfactorily" will mean in practice, or how developers or community energy groups will demonstrate that they have met this.
Q.42: Do you agree with the changes proposed to Paragraph 158 of the existing National Planning Policy Framework?
The addition of the suggestion to approve in paragraph c) is a positive step. It is not clear what "acceptable" impacts would be in practice, or how it would be demonstrated that this bar has been cleared.
Q.43: Do you agree with the changes proposed to footnote 54 of the existing National Planning Policy Framework?
It is positive that the proposed footnotes 62 and 63 (slightly) lower the almost impassable bar for new onshore wind projects which were in the previous footnote 54. However, the redrafting still sets a higher bar for new onshore wind than for other types of energy development; still fails to provide clarity on how this bar can be cleared, and how communities or developers can show that it has been cleared; and still poses too great a barrier to the new wind power we urgently need. I am therefore concerned that this new wording would still fail to enable the growth of clean community energy that is needed across the UK, and would still block new wind projects that have local support, or prevent applications from coming forwards.
Do you have any views on specific wording for new footnote 62?
My view is that onshore wind does not need a separate planning regime that places greater barriers on it than other types of project, and these restrictions should be removed by removing rather than amending the footnote. If the footnotes remain, clarity is badly needed about what is meant by "appropriately addressed" and "satisfactorily addressed" and the level of community support which is required, and how this can be demonstrated in practice.
I consent to my response being acknowledged and included in the government's response.
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