In an effort to address the climate and energy crises, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is prepared to lift the country’s default ban on onshore wind projects.
Sunak had pledged not to loosen what essentially amounts to a prohibition on onshore wind farms in Britain when he ran for Conservative Party leader during the summer. However, pressure from other Conservative MPs appears to have persuaded him to change his mind.
As reported by Euronews Green, Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News on Monday that we already have a significant amount of onshore wind. Over time, especially in areas where people support it, there will be more.
Since 2015, new onshore wind farm building has virtually been prohibited in the UK due to planning regulations put in place by the then-prime minister David Cameron. Following the resignation of Boris Johnson, Sunak ran for party leader and stated that he supported the current course of action.
Rishi also vowed to abandon plans to loosen the restrictions on onshore wind farms in England, giving rural residents security, according to his energy plan, as The Guardian reported. This was done in consideration of the anguish and disturbance that onshore wind farms can frequently bring about.
Despite this rhetoric from politicians, UK people don’t seem to have an issue with onshore wind farms: A 2022 YouGov study cited by Reuters found that more than 70% of respondents were in favour of wind farm building in their towns and only 17% were opposed to it.
According to The Guardian on Saturday, there has been movement in Parliament to enact legislation lifting the prohibition, led by former Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke. His amendment to the Levelling Up Bill would oblige the government to approve new wind farms within six months. As of Saturday, 22 Conservative MPs had backed the proposal, including President of the COP26 climate summit Alok Sharma, who had tweeted his support.
According to Sharma’s tweet on Saturday, Putin’s illegitimate and deadly conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated how closely tied energy and national security are to environmental and climatic security. To meet the UK’s 2035 goal of 100% clean electricity, faster deployment of renewables, including onshore wind, is required.
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The proposal is also supported by Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour party, who has referred to the prohibition as a national act of self-harm, according to The Guardian.
Shapps denied that there was a significant difference of opinion between the amendment’s backers and Sunak’s government in a statement on Monday.
He claimed on Times Radio that there isn’t actually a fight, according to Reuters. We are all essentially stating the same thing: local approval is required before installing wind energy on land since it can have a significant negative impact on the environment. The prime minister has agreed with what Simon Clarke, who is the amendment’s sponsor, has said.
Shapps’ more adaptable strategy, however, differs from Sunak’s comments made during the leadership contest, which may have caused the government to change its position out of concern that it would lose if it rejected the modification.
Although Sunak had earlier stated that it made more sense to concentrate on offshore wind growth, a representative for him stated that he would “talk and consult with MPs (members of parliament) to hear their opinions, as Reuters reported.
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Whatever the real motivation, environmental organizations argued that lifting the prohibition would be good for both the nation and the environment.
According to Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs, lifting the restriction on the onshore wind in England is a “no-brainer,” as reported by Euronews Green. It has a crucial role to play in addressing the cost-of-living and climate challenges since it is affordable, clean, abundant, and well-liked by the general population.
The 2015 Ban might be Relaxed by the UK Government to Allow the Construction of New Onshore Wind Farms.