The Government is changing the law to give local communities the final say over planning decisions for new onshore wind farms.
Wind turbines will only get the go-ahead if the local community has made it clear they support onshore wind projects in their area. They will be free to decide where turbines should go and any proposals must address the concerns of local people and have their backing.
In addition, the law will be changed to end billpayer subsidies for new onshore wind farms from April 2016. This will ensure that the UK meets renewable energy commitments in a way that protects taxpayers and keeps bills low for working people.
• Ending the public subsidy for newly planned onshore wind. Through the Energy Bill the government will close the Renewables Obligation – which supports the overwhelming majority of onshore wind – to new onshore wind from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than planned. Support for renewables is also available through Contracts for Difference, and the government will announce plans to implement our manifesto commitment with these too in due course.
• Giving local communities the decisive say on projects that haven’t already been approved. The Energy Bill will also build on the existing changes to planning rules so local councils have the decisive say on projects which don’t already have planning permission – by putting onshore wind back in the locally led planning system. As part of this two new planning tests will be applied to wind energy developments
1. Wind turbines will only get the go-ahead if provision for them has been clearly allocated for them in areas by local people though the Local or a Neighbourhood Plan. It is important that communities are free to decide whether they want wind turbines in their local area and, if so, where they should go.
2. A planning application should not be approved unless the proposal reflects the planning concerns of the affected local community and has their backing. This second test will reassure a local community that even when their Plan outlines provision and support for wind power, any concerns they have about its impact will be addressed before any permission is granted.
• The UK has enough new onshore wind electricity capacity to help it meet the renewables target. There are now enough onshore wind projects planned to meet the 2020 renewables target. But onshore wind is unable to provide the firm capacity a stable energy system needs – so any new projects should be able to pay for themselves.