United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Renewables sector urges UK’s latest leader Rishi Sunak to back onshore wind

The UK’s renewable energy sector urged incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak to lift the block on onshore wind in England as the former chancellor of the exchequer takes the top office.

Rishi Sunak is due to formally become UK prime minister today (25 October) (pic credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak is due to formally become UK prime minister today (25 October) (pic credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Sunak is expected to become the UK’s third prime minister of the year today (25 October) and the country’s first non-white leader after being selected as leader of the ruling Conservative party by members of parliament from his own party.

He replaces Liz Truss, who he lost to in a vote of Convservative party members and politicians in September. In power, Truss’ tax-cutting economic agenda came under pressure from global financial markets and nearly crashed the UK economy during her 50-day tenure.

Under Truss, the government had also pledged to reform permitting to enable easier development of onshore wind in England – reversing what was effectively a ban on the technology. It had also tabled legislation to impose a revenue cap on renewable energy generators in England and Wales, which are reaping what it called "excessive profits".

She was eventually ousted over a vote on scrapping a ban on allowing ‘fracking’, or hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, in the UK.

Uncertainty?

Sunak has remained tight-lipped on energy policy during the last days of Truss’ rule, but during the leadership election campaign he was inconsistent with whether he planned to retain a de-facto ban on onshore wind in England or look to ease it.

CEO of industry body RenewableUK Dan McGrail said he was willing to work with Sunak to help cut energy bills and boost energy security.

McGrail called for Sunak to lift the block on onshore wind in England, increase renewable energy auction volumes, and enable regulator Ofgem to invest in new grid infrastructure as early as possible.

He added: “We need a wide range of power sources to get us to net zero as fast as possible, including floating wind, tidal energy and green hydrogen – and the UK is a world leader in all of these technologies.

“But to seize these opportunities we’re urging Mr Sunak to reassess some of the Conservatives’ recent measures which risk undermining confidence among investors, such as the energy price cap which could skew investment towards fossil fuels.”

Meanwhile, RenewableUK’s head of public affairs Nathan Bennett called for Sunak to re-establish the UK’s 2030 targets of 50GW of offshore wind capacity, including 5GW of floating wind.

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