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New UK government to end onshore wind ban this month

RICHARD HEAP

July 8, 2024

The UK’s new government has committed to end the de facto ban on onshore wind projects in England this month with changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Chancellor Rachel Reeves today announced a programme of policies designed to get “Britain building again” in her first speech since Labour won the UK general election last Thursday (4th July). This includes a series of planning reforms to the NPPF, which sets out the government’s main planning policies and influences local authority decision-making.

In addition, the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero has announced that footnotes 57 and 58 to paragraph 163 of the UK’s National Planning Policy Framework will no longer apply to planning decisions, from today. These footnotes apply two tests for onshore wind farms that are not used for other types of UK infrastructure projects.

First, onshore wind farms have had to be in areas allocated in a development plan; and second, the footnotes gave undue power to objectors because of the need to for developers to demonstrate strong community support. The removal of these tests could help unlock onshore wind projects in England.

Dan McGrail, chief executive at trade association RenewableUK, welcomed the changes: “Lifting the onshore wind ban in England was long overdue and we’re delighted that Labour has made this one of its first priorities in office. This shows that the new Government is determined to act fast to tackle some of the longstanding barriers which have held the UK back on developing vital new clean energy infrastructure.”

He added that there was public support for the government to reform the planning system so wind farms in England cannot be delayed by a small number of objectors.

“The onshore wind industry is committed to ensuring that communities are properly consulted about any proposals, including the wide range of economic benefits they will bring to local people. This process can take several years, including measures which help ensure that wildlife is protected, so it will be some time before brand new projects go ahead in England,” he said.

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