My Interventions in the Energy Bill (3)

John Redwood:
Does my right hon. Friend accept, on the cost argument, that we also need to build a new gas turbine station as back-up for when the wind does not blow?

Sir Alok Sharma:
We do need a diversified energy system, and I think the Minister set out all the work that is going on on nuclear, for example. However, as we drive forward for greater energy security, we need to change the planning rules to allow more onshore wind. The objectives of new clause 43 are to ensure a more permissive planning regime. The new clause seeks to lift the current planning restriction that in effect means that a single objection can block a development. It also seeks to ensure that local communities willing to take onshore wind developments will receive direct community benefits.

The Government have today responded to new clause 43 by bringing forward a written ministerial statement on onshore wind. I thank the Government for the constructive dialogue we have had over the past days on this issue. I acknowledge that that written ministerial statement, and indeed the accompanying changes to the national planning policy framework, move things forward and will help to deliver a more permissive planning regime for onshore wind.

The de facto ban is lifted. The statement clarifies that the policy intent is not to allow very limited objections or even a single objection to ban a planning application, and it is explicit that local communities willing to host onshore wind farms should directly benefit, including potentially through energy discounts. That is positive, but we do need to see the Government’s formal response to their consultation on this issue to understand the detail of the precise mechanism by which the benefits regime will work.Toggle showing location ofColumn 291

I also welcome the fact that local plans will not be the only route to delivering more onshore wind, with more agile and targeted routes available. Of course it is now a requirement for local planning authorities to support community-led initiatives for renewable and low-carbon energy. Vitally, those policy changes are effective today.


  1. Donna
    September 8, 2023

    Sir John asked a direct question about a new gas power station being provided.

    The Eco Nutter who replied waffled on about onshore windmills.

    That is the level of contempt this disgraceful Blue-Green Socialist Government has for its own MPs on full display.

    1. Bingle
      September 8, 2023

      And today, in soaring temperatures and as I write, the wind farms are providing less than 1% of generation and our coal powered power station is operating.

      The answer? More wind turbines.

      You could not make it up!

  2. Bloke
    September 8, 2023

    ‘Direct community benefits’ are what? Paying people an incentive to tolerate something undesirable is like a bad bribe. Why should anyone be attracted by cash to live next to a volcano, a slippery coal pile or radiation site?

  3. Narrow Shoulders
    September 8, 2023

    The answer to no wind is more wind capacity.

    I suspect the Chair of Cop26 junket also believes in more EU to be the panacea.

  4. Rod Evans
    September 8, 2023

    Shame on Sharma. His pointless answer to a straight question shows he has no interest in truth but must for what ever reason peddle the Eco babble he is instructed to do.
    Wind today is producing zero energy to the grid….again.

  5. Mark+Thomas
    September 8, 2023

    Sir John,
    If you had asked the same question of Ed Miliband, you probably would have received much the same reply.

  6. Original Richard
    September 8, 2023

    “Sir Alok Sharma: We do need a diversified energy system…”

    Here is the COP 26 President ensuring we have a “diversified energy system” by explosively demolishing himself the Ferrybridge power plant in this 2021 official SSE video :×720/JwPnpycxEiyBmqVJ.mp4?tag=12

    And, BTW, the NG ESO FES plan is for nuclear to be no more than 5% of our energy by the decarbonisation date of 2035.

    The reason for the sudden tack to onshore wind is because at the last, failed, AR5 renewables auction, the offshore wind companies wanted their CfD prices to be increased by 250%!

  7. RichardP
    September 8, 2023

    Thank you Sir John for asking the questions that don’t seem to interest most MPs.
    Unfortunately you got the standard reply that more windmills are the solution for when the wind doesn’t blow! If pushed on the subject they usually claim that batteries will be provided.
    I also note that he sees no difference between base load nuclear power and intermittent renewable power.

  8. Mickey Taking
    September 8, 2023

    We will have to rely on Interconnectors from ex-friends, and get cold and hungry.

  9. Mark
    September 9, 2023

    We do not propose to set targets for the share of total energy or electricity supply to be met from different fuels. We do not believe Government is equipped to decide the composition of the fuel mix. We prefer to create a market framework, reinforced by long-term policy measures, which will give investors, business and consumers the right incentives to find the balance that will most effectively meet our overall goals.

    diverse sources, fuel types and trading routes should be promoted to avoid the UK being reliant on too few international sources of oil and gas. We will work with producer nations and the private sector to promote the conditions needed for investment in energy infrastructure;

    For the markets to work, firms need to be confident that the Government will allow them to work. Energy supply problems in other countries have demonstrated the risks of not doing so. We will not intervene in the market except in extreme circumstances, such as to avert, as a last resort, a potentially serious risk to safety.

    2003 Energy White Paper – produced by a Labour government!

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