The UK government has unveiled its “Growth Plan” with extensive measures to support onshore wind developments. Liz Truss is starting her premiership by u-turning on previous measures that have made onshore wind projects difficult to navigate.
The proposed legislation will bring onshore wind planning policy in line with other infrastructures, such as solar farms, to allow it to be deployed easier in England. This announcement comes as public opinion rallies behind renewable energy as the solution to the energy crisis and inflation.
At Green Switch Capital, we welcome the announcement as it means future onshore wind development will have an easier route to getting planning approval. We’re breaking down what the Growth Plan announcement means for the green energy industry and how you can play a part in protecting our planet.
What the “Growth Plan” Means for Green Energy
Addressing the energy crisis is at the top of the government’s to-do list. Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled the government’s “Growth Plan” on 23rd September as a roadmap to reducing the UK’s reliance on foreign energy exports.
Part of the legislation announced within the growth plan is to ease the planning restrictions around onshore wind projects. It proposes a streamlining of the environmental assessment process to help accelerate onshore wind farm development to promote economic growth.
Onshore wind is considered one of the best forms of green energy due to its cheaper per unit cost. There is currently 8GW of onshore wind capacity under construction in the UK – but it’s not enough to reach our net zero target.
The UK will be better positioned to achieve its net-zero target and decarbonisation by turbo-charging its onshore wind capacity. We’re pleased to see that the Growth Plan acknowledges the state of the current planning system, which it describes as “slow and too fragmented”.
Previously, the UK has effectively had a ban on most new onshore wind projects due to a different planning process. The Growth Plan proposes a levelling of the green energy economy to put onshore wind projects on an equal footing with other renewable energy infrastructure.
This development will allow new major onshore wind projects to get off the ground for the first time in almost seven years.
Will It Be Easier for Onshore Wind Projects?
While onshore wind is considered one of the cheapest renewable energy sources, its capacity has been contained due to strict planning regulations. Some within the industry have compared these planning constraints to an effective ban on major onshore wind projects.
The purpose of the upcoming legislation is to open the green energy market and remove the bureaucracy that’s currently stalling hundreds of proposed developments. Restrictive planning measures have been kept in place in recent years, even with proposed onshore wind projects on the rise.
Most of the UK’s recent onshore wind development has been focused on Scotland, where planning regulations are easier to navigate. This proposed legislation means developments in England will be put on an even playing field.
Onshore wind isn’t the only planning process getting an overhaul. Offshore wind is also seeing proposed changes. It offers another vital component in the transition to green energy as offshore wind prices have dropped by almost 70% since 2015.
Development Consent Orders – known as DCOs – are one aspect that is specifically being looked at. DCOs have increased by 65% in the last decade with most offshore wind farms experiencing a four-year wait for planning approval.
Future of the UK’s Green Economy
The Growth Plan’s proposal document lists several infrastructure schemes that will be pushed through an accelerated schedule to allow them to break ground within the next year.
Hydrogen and offshore wind projects are also mentioned throughout the Growth Plan. It echoes the industry’s concerns about infrastructure being the leading barrier to unlocking the UK’s renewable energy potential. The current energy crisis has focused minds throughout the government and industry.
The change in planning regulations for onshore wind development comes as public opinion toward renewable reaches a new height. Previous opposition towards onshore wind turbines, primarily due to being an ‘eyesore’, has dropped as the public becomes more educated on climate change and renewable energy.
Research shows over 75% of the UK public support windfarms being built across the country. Support extends across voters of all political parties with onshore wind having more support than nuclear power.
Although nuclear power was the previous Prime Minister’s priority, less than 50% of the public is in favour of new nuclear power stations. Even less of the public support the development of gas power stations. The government’s switch to prioritising onshore wind development puts it closer in line with the public’s preferences.
Beyond the Growth Plan
What’s next? The government expects the legislation within the Growth Plan to be introduced within the next few months. The goal is for the legislation to increase the UK’s renewable energy capacity by 15% within the next year. This target is essential for the UK to reach its net-zero target of 2050.
If the Growth Plan delivers on its potential, we could see a reduction in energy bills and an independent UK energy sector powered by renewables. Red tape has meant that onshore wind has fallen behind in development, with solar panels seeing a meteoritic increase this summer.
Building the UK’s Green Energy Grid
At Green Switch Capital, we’re working to create a self-sufficient, sustainable energy market to enable Britain to achieve net zero by 2050. Green energy is the solution to the climate crisis, rising energy bills, and to creating a safer future.
We’re specialists in solar, wind and battery storage who are repurposing land for renewable energy infrastructure. Green Switch has already invested over £350 million in renewable diversification. Our team unlocks the potential of disused land, providing farmers and landowners with a passive income stream.
Become part of our land leasing programme today by getting in touch with our team. You can play your part in helping the UK develop a carbon-free energy grid while earning a guaranteed income for up to 40 years. It’s your chance to regenerate your land and brighten the country’s future.