By the end of this year, the Government will undertake a technical consultation on the national planning framework for onshore wind development in England. That consultation will conclude by the end of March next year.
The Government recognises the range of views on onshore wind. We believe that decisions on onshore wind are best made by local representatives who know their areas best and underpinned by democratic accountability. To deliver this, and our commitments in the British Energy Security Strategy, we will consult on a more localist approach that provides local authorities more flexibility to respond to the views of their local communities.
Through consultation with local authorities, communities and businesses, we intend to make changes to the National Planning Policy Framework by the end of April 2023 so that:
- Permission is predicated on demonstrating local support for the project and satisfactorily addressing the project’s planning impacts as identified by local communities, learning from best practice and using new digital engagement techniques.
- Local authorities can demonstrate their support for certain areas in their boundaries to be suitable for onshore wind to enable us to move away from the overly rigid requirement for onshore wind sites to be designated in a local plan.
In the consultation, we also want to consider how the planning framework best:
- Supports communities to have a say on the necessary infrastructure to connect wind farms to the grid,
- Encourages the upgrading of existing wind farm sites.
We will also consult on developing local partnerships for supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for benefits, including lower energy bills.
Legislation from the Conservative Government in 2016 ensured that all onshore wind applications are considered by local councils rather than through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime. This will continue to be the case.
We recognise the concerns expressed by local communities on the appropriate siting of onshore wind farms, which is why the Conservative Government in 2015 strengthened planning protection.
We should continue to ensure our valued landscapes are protected, particularly National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Green Belt. This will continue to be the case, and the combination of robust national and local planning policies will given sufficient weight to be able to rebuff unwanted speculative ‘development by appeal’.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords