MPs join calls for onshore wind policy overhaul
A coalition of 130 MPs, including 35 from the Conservative Party, has called on Boris Johnson to alter the UK's planning and energy policies to better support the growth of onshore wind.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister this week, the MPs state that “onshore wind energy is vital to our aim of achieving our climate targets at least cost and the inspiring vision of a before-2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target”.
The document highlights the decision taken by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2015 to exclude onshore wind assets from the Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) process – a move which industry body RenewableUK claims will stifle future growth in installations – as one which should be overturned on the road to net-zero.
It goes on to argue that the National Planning Policy Framework should be amended to help the uptake of small onshore arrays with a capacity of 5MW or less. At present, such developments are subject to a different and more lengthy process than other renewable and low-carbon projects. Moreover, the development of these small projects can be halted by one formal objection.
The letter has been co-ordinated by campaign groups 10:10 Climate Action and Power for People, whose director Steve Shaw told edie’s sister publication Utility Week that a change in legislation was “absolutely” necessary in the UK meeting its 2050 net-zero goal.
“It’s the threat of one person complaining that undermines all the work and expense that means onshore windfarms are never proposed,” Shaw said. “We want to level the playing field, not open the floodgates.”
The MPs’ letter is one in a string of calls to action to have been made to Johnson over onshore wind since he took up the post of Prime Minister last month.
Just last week, a group of businesses from across the renewable energy sector signed a letter to Johnson, containing, broadly, the same requests. Signatories included EDF, Vestas, Vattenfall, Statkraft, RES Group, CS Wind, Innogy and Siemens Gamesa, as well as major utilities SSE and Scottish Power. Trade organisations RenwableUK, Scottish Renewables, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Make UK, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) have also given their support.
Public support for onshore wind is also on the rise, with a recent BEIS survey finding that 76% of UK adults are in favour of the generation method. The survey additionally found that at least two-thirds of residents in each UK constituency would support turbines within five miles of their home.
During her time as Energy Minister, Claire Perry MP had hinted that onshore wind and solar projects could be allowed to compete for subsidies in future CfD auctions. But, since then, BEIS has repeatedly argued that offshore would be a cheaper mechanism for reaching net-zero, largely due to the fact that turbines can be bigger. Moreover, junior business minister Lord Henley recently told the House of Lords that the Government has no plans to change its existing policy approach to onshore wind.