UK Government advisers urge more onshore wind farms to power the grid

To aid the UK in achieving its net zero objectives, the National Infrastructure Commission has recommended that ministers expedite the authorisation process for new projects

The National Infrastructure Commission has called for the UK Government to take action against a “de facto ban” that has prevented the development of onshore wind farms.

The commission’s report recommends that local councils should be stripped of the power to block these projects, which are crucial to achieving the government’s ambitious net zero targets.

The commission further suggests that new energy projects should offer economic benefits to the communities they will serve, in order to mitigate local opposition to development.

The government’s infrastructure advisers suggest the planning system’s sluggishness is partly due to the outdated National Policy Statements, leading to lengthy planning examinations.

The report notes that lengthy decision-making processes lead to uncertainty for communities, while inefficiencies in environmental data gathering and mitigation design only slow down the process without improving the environment.

The report emphasised the need for a streamlined planning system that balances speed and thoroughness in decision-making, with due consideration for communities and the environment.

Dr Richard Benwell, Chief Executive Officer of Wildlife and Countryside Link, welcomed the recommendation for a centralised and standardised environmental data-sharing platform, which could help minimise the negative impact of major infrastructure projects on nature.

He suggested that if this platform were linked to Local Nature Recovery Strategies legally, it could be a significant step towards nature-positive planning.

Marta Krajewska, Deputy Director of Policy at Energy UK, highlighted the crucial role of the planning system in facilitating the energy sector’s contribution to achieving net zero targets.

However, she expressed concern over the increasing delays in recent years, which could jeopardise the government’s ambitions to accelerate the production of clean energy in the UK.

ELN has approached the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero for comment.

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