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No proposals for onshore wind farms were submitted in England last year.
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No proposals for onshore wind farms were submitted in England last year.

Despite the government’s efforts to ease planning restrictions, there were no new proposals for general-use windfarms submitted for planning permission in England last year.

According to recent data from the government, there were only seven proposals for onshore wind turbine projects in England for the entirety of 2023. These projects were either for replacing current turbines or for privately-owned sites that will provide energy for a specific consumer, such as a business.

In 2022, there were only 10 applications submitted, which was even lower than the current number due to the de facto ban that was still in effect.

Last year, four wind developments on land were given approval in England through previous applications. These developments consisted of either replacing turbines or for personal usage. Construction started on a 4MW project in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, which had been granted permission the year prior.

In September of last year, government officials revealed alterations to the strict rules that had essentially prohibited the building of onshore wind turbines in England since 2015. These rules were originally implemented by David Cameron to satisfy the more conservative members of his party.

Last year, Rishi Sunak made changes to the regulations after facing pressure from his fellow party members who were worried about the ban’s effect on energy prices. However, activists noted that the lifting of the ban was only partial and cautioned that it may not be effective.

In December, data revealed that there were no new submissions following the rule change in September. Further data released this week confirmed that there were no applications for onshore windfarms intended for public use.

In comparison, Scotland has not imposed a ban on onshore wind development and has received 46 applications during the same time period.

Chaitanya Kumar, the leader in environmental and sustainable development at the New Economics Foundation thinktank, examined government data and concluded that the government is not effectively utilizing the potential of onshore wind energy production. This form of energy could potentially lower electricity costs and reduce the reliance on costly gas.

According to him, land-based wind power continues to be the most affordable form of renewable energy in the UK and has already resulted in billions of dollars in cost savings for households in the country.

Unfortunately, England is still not taking advantage of this valuable resource, while Scotland and other European countries continue to increase their wind energy capacity significantly each year.

According to a study conducted in the previous year by Carbon Brief, the prohibition on building onshore windfarms has resulted in a loss of approximately £5 billion for consumers. This amounts to an extra £180 per household on energy bills across the UK. If developers were permitted to construct onshore windfarms in England at the same rate as before the ban, significant savings could have been achieved.

Surveys consistently show that land-based wind energy would be well-received in England, and the government has taken steps towards granting local communities the opportunity to profit from renewable energy projects in their region.

Kumar encouraged government officials to make additional modifications to the planning regulations. He stated, “This administration must continue to update its planning policy framework, eliminate any remaining limitations for new ventures, and promote more community involvement in onshore wind energy.”

A representative from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities stated that in September 2023, they revised the National Planning Policy Framework in order to streamline the process for onshore wind projects to be proposed, as long as there is local approval.

“These adjustments will require a period of time to become effective, but ultimately, they will open the door for additional projects while also considering the perspectives of the community.”

Source: theguardian.com