Doubling onshore wind energy – what does this mean for England?

  • Market Insight 09 July 2024 09 July 2024
  • UK & Europe

  • Projects & Construction

Yesterday Chancellor Rachel Reeves announced a commitment to doubling onshore wind energy by 2030. To meet this commitment the government has removed the de facto ban on onshore wind in England with immediate effect.

The previous test

Under the previous regime, onshore wind projects had to pass two tests under the National Planning Policy Framework. First, an onshore development could only be considered acceptable in areas allocated in a development plan or through Local Development Order, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. The effect of this test was that it set a higher bar for onshore wind farms than other forms of development.

Secondly, proposals brought forward by Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders required community support. In practice this has been interpreted to mean that any opposition would make the proposal unacceptable.

Although not an outright ban, these two tests severely restricted the number of onshore wind farm projects from being approved.

The new regime

The new government is revising planning policy to place onshore wind on the same footing as other energy development.  Accordingly, these two tests will no longer apply. This allows onshore wind applications to be assessed in the same way as other development proposals.

The government will also consult on bringing large onshore wind projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime (NSIP) and increasing the role of local communities in the process, empowering them to participate in local energy decisions.  How this will be achieved, balanced local concerns against national energy demand, remains to be seen.

What does this mean for the industry?

The government has committed to doubling the onshore wind energy capability to nearly double the current capacity.  This means that there will be a significant influx in works associated with onshore wind projects. Current owners and operators can expand their existing portfolios by taking advantage of the reduction in planning risks. Smaller developers will also benefit from these changes in policy and can invest in windfarms without depending on larger developers to share these risks.

Additionally, developers will need to ensure that they have adequate skilled workers, finances, and supply chain in place to meet the expected surge in work. But beware, the real details in this announcement will likely lie in the soon to be announced update to the Community Benefits Protocol for Onshore Wind in England – this will set out the government’s further plans for community involvement and empowerment in the process.


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