Onshore wind farms ban to be overturned following Tory pressure

Ministers are expected to overturn the de facto ban on onshore wind farms following pressure from Conservative MPs.

The Government will make the announcement in the form of a written ministerial statement on Tuesday.

On Monday, Downing Street refused to be drawn on the reports and said the Government position “has not changed” after the Prime Minister pledged last October to keep the onshore wind farm ban in place.

Former Cop26 president Sir Alok Sharma, who has led Tory backbench pressure over the issue, said he wanted to see rules which allow a single objection to block development changed.

It is understood the written ministerial statement will set out changes, agreed during passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, that will come into force with immediate effect.

A Government source said: “We are very clear that onshore wind developments should have the consent of, and benefit, local communities.

“However, we want to see the sector thrive and believe that this is an important step forward.”

Former minister Sir Alok said MPs who have signed his amendment to the Energy Bill want to see a “much more permissive planning regime” on onshore wind.

Sir Alok told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to see the lifting of the current planning restriction, which means that a single objection to an onshore wind development can block it.

“And of course, allied with this, we want to ensure that local communities who are willing to take onshore wind developments will receive direct community benefits.”

He continued: “I think it’s going to be very important to see the detail of what the Government puts forward in terms of its ministerial statement, in terms of what ministers say from the despatch box.

“But I hope that the Government will have listened and will be willing to move forward.”

Sir Alok said he wanted to see the “outdated” right of an individual to effectively veto a wind farm to be removed.

He added: “The current situation we have is that just one objection can prevent a wind farm from being built.

“I mean, clearly, that is not a community veto and, frankly, I don’t think it’s a sensible way for a planning system to operate.”

He said there should be a “direct linkage” between communities willing to take onshore wind farms and them getting a direct benefit, which could be a discount on their bills.