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Wind turbine expansion thrown into doubt  

Credit:  By Rachel Millard | The Telegraph | 13 December 2021 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~

Further expansion of wind turbines in the British countryside has been called into question after the technology was left out of key planning policy papers.

Turbines risk being rejected by local authorities or bogged down in planning rows due to onshore wind’s treatment in the latest draft energy national policy statements, critics fear.

Energy UK has warned MPs of a “short-sighted” approach that is at odds with other supportive policy statements and risks “damaging future deployment of this much-needed renewable energy source”.

Emma Pinchbeck, the trade body’s chief executive, added last week: “It also indicates perhaps a lack of government ambition for that technology – and that’s particularly unfortunate because we are going to need every tool in the box and specifically we are going to need to develop onshore wind.”

Onshore wind turbines generate about a tenth of UK electricity, most of which comes from Scotland. More turbines will be needed as Britain tries to meet its target of slashing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

They have had a volatile history in Britain, however, with former prime minister David Cameron declaring in 2014 that people were “fed up” with the turbines popping up in sight of their homes.

Subsidies for onshore wind were removed and planning rules changed in 2015 to give local areas greater powers over whether they wanted turbines, with particularly tough thresholds in England.

Support for the turbines is now returning in the push to net zero, with the UK Government deeming onshore wind a “key building block” of the future energy mix, and reintroducing subsidies from this year.

Public polling also shows greater support, while the Climate Change Committee, the government’s advisors, estimates that between 22 gigawatts and 29 gigawatts will be needed by 2030, compared to about 14 gigawatts installed today.

The draft energy policy statements at issue set out the policy for the Secretary of State to decide on planning applications for nationally significant energy infrastructure in England and Wales.

Onshore wind does not fall under this approval regime due to the planning changes introduced in 2015, and so is barely mentioned.

However, critics say it should nonetheless be fully addressed in the policy statements as they can also affect planning decisions made by local authorities or devolved governments. The Energy Secretary can also direct projects into the regime if such action is deemed to be appropriate.

In a letter to the Government’s consultation on the statements, Renewable UK, the trade body, said the wording in the policy statements “must be strengthened to reflect the importance of technologies which do not fall under the NSIP (nationally significant infrastructure project) process, but still make significant contributions to decarbonising the UK’s electricity system”.

It adds: “Onshore wind is a notable example of this … the [statements] should provide full policy support to the role of onshore wind in meeting government targets to reaching net zero.”

Barnaby Wharton at Renewable UK said the current draft statements did not focus enough on delivering the wider net zero target. “We would welcome further engagement with [the Business Department] to ensure that this is altered and reflected appropriately.”

Ms Pinchbeck told MPs on the business committee last week that the practical impact of the current treatment of onshore wind in the policy statements was not yet clear.

She added: “It’s disappointing to see it removed … when you don’t have a specific mention of a technology in the text, it obviously means there is less clarity on how we can develop and where we can develop it, for planners.”

A government spokesman said: “Onshore wind, alongside other renewables, will have an important role to play in helping us meet our plan to decarbonise the UK electricity system by 2035, and the latest figures indicate we now have over 14 gigawatts of onshore wind capacity installed in the UK, enough to power over 10m UK homes.

“We also announced in March this year that onshore wind projects will be able to compete in the next Contracts for Difference allocation round, which will aim to deliver up to double the renewable capacity of the last round.”

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  By Rachel Millard | The Telegraph | 13 December 2021 | www.telegraph.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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