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Lifting of ban on onshore wind farms in England

08 July 2024

Rachel Reeves delivered her first speech this morning as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. Amongst other policy priorities, she announced an immediate end to the “absurd ban” on new onshore wind development in England. 

In their manifesto, the Labour party were clear on their support for renewable energy development and this is an initial step towards delivery of a more positive policy treatment for onshore wind.   

These changes take effect today (8 July 2024) and will be confirmed to Parliament on 18 July 2024 following the State opening. The technical effect is disapply two tests within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which apply to onshore wind. The tests are found as footnotes 57 & 58 of the NPPF at paragraph 163, which stated that onshore wind development can only be considered acceptable: 

  1. In areas either allocated in a development plan or through Local Development Orders, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. 
  2. With the narrow exception of proposals brought forward by Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders, where the proposal has proved community support. 

The policy statement notes that these tests had set a higher bar than set for other forms of development and that in practice, this has often been interpreted to mean that any opposition means the proposal cannot be considered acceptable.

The Chancellor also noted that the new government will also go further and consult on bringing onshore wind back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, meaning that decisions on large developments will be taken nationally, not locally. 

The installed capacity of delivered onshore wind in England has remained almost unchanged since 2017 and significantly lags behind onshore wind delivery in both Germany and France. The Government have today committed to doubling the onshore wind energy by 2030 – this would mean adding installed capacity of approximately 15 GW over the next 6 years (based on the installed capacity in the United Kingdom of just short of 15 GW in 2022, according to statista).  

DWF's European New Energy Atlas and Growth Market report, earlier this year found that there are plans for 7.3 GW of onshore wind capacity to be installed in Scotland over the next 5 years, which means there is a requirement for at least another 7.7GW to be added by 2030 (much of which we would expect to be in England following the developments today). Today’s announcement and policy statement will be welcome news to an Industry seeking to re-energise itself following the change in government. 

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Our team of energy specialists help clients to adapt to regulatory reforms, rethink their strategies, optimise efficiencies across the value chain and find new agile ways to tackle emerging challenges.

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Further Reading