Open Letter to Michael Gove about onshore wind

HVCA signed an open letter to Michael Gove about fears that the government is quietly reneging on promises to lift the ban on onshore wind in England.

Draft Letter to Michael Gove

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the chef and environmental campaigner, has led a letter to secretaries of state, signed by HVCA and other conservation groups, academics and business people.

The ban was put in place in 2015 by tightening planning restrictions in the National Planning Policy Framework. To end the ban, the relevant planning regulations should be scrapped or clearly reformed.

But the signatories to the letter believe that ministers will only tinker with minor changes to planning that will still prevent onshore windfarms from being built and that consultation on the issue is a sham. By hiding behind obscure footnotes in the regulations, the government will be able to retain restrictions whilst claiming to have reformed them.

Fearnley-Whittingstall said: “Poll after poll makes it clear there is an overwhelming public majority in favour of onshore wind, and communities are standing by with great wind-power projects that they know will help the environment and bring down their energy bills. Yet the government apparently just doesn’t get it. They are not only totally out of sync with the people on onshore wind, they are floundering on their own commitment to net zero.”

The letter warns: “The proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework which are currently under consultation are entirely inadequate to bring about the required change in policy. The decision to replace [paragraph 158] Footnote 54 with some marginally revised wording, in the form of new Footnotes 62 & 63, looks to be almost identical in effect, and inevitably means the effective ban will remain in place.”

The footnotes refer to a clause in the framework that effectively excludes onshore windfarms. The signatories called for the removal of these footnotes, to place onshore wind planning applications on the same planning basis as other onshore infrastructure projects.

The letter concludes: “Let’s end a policy that hampers both climate progress and energy security and open up the possibility of wind power across England.”

The 116 signatories include HVCA, former chief scientific adviser Sir David King, former food adviser Rosie Boycott, broadcasters including Kevin McCloud, Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin, business leaders Deborah Meaden and Mary Portas, civil society organisations including RSPB, the Soil Association and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.


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