England is failing to capitalise on its onshore wind potential

With the UK having the largest wind energy resource in Europe and more than three-quarters of voters wanting more onshore windfarms, it is surprising that there remains a virtual ban on their construction in England. Footnote 54 to the National Planning Policy Framework updated in 2018 made it possible for any small group of “local community” objectors to kill off an onshore windfarm project even if the majority want it.

With onshore wind generation being ever cheaper compared with gas and nuclear energy this seems particularly harsh on those struggling to pay bills. This planning restriction does not apply in Scotland so the stark difference in the number of turbines when crossing the border in either direction is clearly nothing to do with the wind speeds.

Germany, which is already a fan of wind power despite being far less windy than England, is already well ahead in installed capacity and expects to double it by 2030 in response to the war in Ukraine. Germany aims for 100% renewable electricity supply by 2030.

With the whole of Europe desperate to reduce its reliance on Russian gas it seems economically illiterate for the UK not to take advantage of our windy climate and make money exporting electricity to Europe – never mind the needs of the climate.


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