Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government is currently consulting on changing national permitting laws to allow onshore wind development and determining how local communities can show support.
However, industry body RenewableUK is concerned that the definition of community consent is so broad that one person objecting to a project could still stop it from going ahead – as is currently the case under existing laws in England.
RenewableUK renewed calls for the government to work with industry to create a “level playing field” for onshore wind, and stated: “We are highly concerned that the government is not doing enough to remove the barriers preventing onshore wind from being rapidly deployed and it is our view that the amendments proposed… will not enable the deployment of onshore wind in England.”
However, the group described proposals to encourage repowering as “positive” in its submission to the government consultation.
Meanwhile, academics, community groups and celebrities signed an open letter to the government, arguing that key measures designed to ease onshore wind permitting in England are “entirely inadequate”.
They argue that suggested changes to permitting regulations “look to be almost identical in effect, and inevitably mean the effective ban will remain in place”.
The consultation follows seven years of permitting rules for onshore wind in England so restrictive they effectively amounted to a ban.
It also comes as Russia continues to cut off gas supplies to Europe, driving up energy prices and prompting governments to consider measures to boost energy security.
Industry and campaigners alike have called for onshore wind to be fast-tracked in order to boost energy security, arguing its low cost can help bring down bills for consumers.
Last year, restrictive permitting measures meant just two 500kW onshore wind turbines were brought online in England, according to RenewableUK. Meanwhile, just 314MW of new onshore wind capacity was commissioned in Scotland.