New UK Government Rules Increase Support for Onshore Wind Projects

wind turbines on fields in England

(Credit: GOV.UK)

by | Sep 6, 2023

wind turbines on fields in England

(Credit: GOV.UK)

The United Kingdom has released new measures towards supporting local communities in streamlining onshore wind projects.

Allowing locals to have more say in how onshore wind projects are to be considered, projects supported by people in the area are expected to be approved more quickly. The new measures are also meant to result in electricity bill savings and increased national energy security.

Communities are now able to offer proposals for onshore wind projects in several ways rather than through local plans alone, speeding up the process of allocating sites. Proposals may be made through Local Development Orders or Community Right to Build Orders, for example. The U.K. government also promotes consideration of the entire community when considering an application rather than only supporting the views of a small minority.

These changes are to be included in the National Planning Policy Framework, which has contributed to renewable expansion since 2010 and has seen over $150 billion in investment in that time.

“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 Michael Gove, secretary of state for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities. “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.”

Importance of Onshore Wind Energy for UK Climate Goals

Renewable energy accounted for 42% of the U.K.’s energy generation in 2022, a significant increase from 7% in 2010. Yet, as with many other countries, rapid expansion of renewables is still needed to meet climate targets.

After onshore wind projects were effectively prohibited in 2015 due to a small number of objectors, this ruling marks a step towards ramping up development of the renewable energy source. However, the new ruling has received criticism from the Labour Party and various environmental organizations in the U.K. According to a BBC Report, Ed Miliband, the Labour Party’s shadow energy and net zero secretary, claimed the new system “remains stacked against onshore wind,” and RenewableUK claimed the changes “amounted to a light softening at the edges but nothing more.”

The U.K. is currently one of the world’s leaders in offshore wind energy generation, but onshore wind remains contentious as some government officials claim onshore turbines should not be “imposed” on local areas. With the new ruling, local residents should have a greater say in whether wind turbines are to be built in their communities.

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