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Labour proposes to ease planning restrictions on onshore wind farms

Labour proposes to ease planning restrictions on onshore wind farms

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Labour is pledging to ease planning restrictions on onshore wind farms in England “within weeks” if it wins the general election, as the party seeks to convince voters it is serious about its plans to boost renewable energy.

Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband will tell an energy conference on Wednesday that there “is not a moment to waste” in Labour’s plans to overhaul the energy system, which the party has argued will help bring down household bills as well as create jobs.

Currently well ahead of the Conservatives in opinion polls, Labour said it expected to be able improve developers’ ability to build onshore wind turbines in England “as soon as parliament is sitting”, and without the need for legislation.

The party said it intended to make a written ministerial statement removing a requirement in the national planning policy framework for community concerns to be “appropriately addressed”, a stipulation that could be used to block onshore wind projects.

The change “would have an immediate effect on developers’ willingness to bring forward plans for onshore wind in England”, a Labour spokesman said.

The party’s plans are likely to be welcomed by developers and energy industry executives but risk stirring controversy in local communities if people do not feel their concerns about the impact of turbines have been heard.

Labour said it was committed to some form of community consent process, but did not provide details.

Few onshore wind farms have been built in England since 2015, when the then prime minister David Cameron brought in a de facto ban on turbines by tightening planning rules.

Last year, the government partially eased the rules, but critics warned this did not go far enough to make a meaningful difference to developers and their efforts to bring new projects online.

Labour has made clean energy a central part of its election campaign, pledging to decarbonise electricity supplies by 2030 and to set up a state-owned company, GB Energy, to invest in renewable projects.

Speaking at the Global Offshore Wind 2024 conference in Manchester, Miliband is expected to say on Wednesday: “There is not a moment to waste in the race for energy independence. If Labour wins the election, we will be ready to act on day one.

“We will unleash a wave of investment in clean energy to bring down bills, boost energy independence, kick-start our economy and tackle the climate crisis.”

Energy secretary Claire Coutinho said in a message on X that the UK was “already a clean energy superpower”, adding this was “thanks to successive Conservative governments”.

Onshore and offshore wind supplied almost 30 per cent of Britain’s electricity last year, a record, with 32 per cent coming from gas-fired power stations and 14 per cent from nuclear.

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