Rishi Sunak ‘set to overturn onshore wind farm ban amid party pressure’

Ministers are expected to provide an update on the delivery of the Government’s energy security plans (Tom Leese/PA) (PA Wire)
Ministers are expected to provide an update on the delivery of the Government’s energy security plans (Tom Leese/PA) (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak is reportedly set to succumb to pressure from party members and overturn his de facto ban on onshore wind farms.

The Telegraph reports ministers will release plans that will give councils the right to be able to build proposed wind farms if there is community support for the projects.

Mr Sunak has fought off a rebellion from within his party as ministers are said to be discussing ways to finalise the details on the amendment, particularly on how fast the Government could legally scrap the ban.

Plans are reportedly being written for a minister to submit a written statement to the Commons which will commit to changing the current planning rules.

In October last year Mr Sunak pledged to keep the onshore wind farm ban in place.

The Government’s Energy Bill will be voted on as ministers return from their summer recess with Labour said to support the proposed changes.

Only six more Tory backbenchers will need to vote in favour to overturn the Government’s majority.

In July Sir Alok Sharma, the former Cop26 president, formally proposed an amendment to the Government’s Energy Bill.

His amendment requires the Government to show developers how they can demonstrate that local communities support their plans, and how they can provide financial benefits to those communities.

The plan would also prohibit appeals against a decision by a local council to refuse planning permission for a wind farm to ensure that local wishes are respected.

Sir Alok said in July: “Last autumn the Government committed to change the planning rules by the end of April this year to overturn the de facto ban on onshore wind. Unfortunately, this has not happened.

“This amendment will help to deliver on the Government’s own promise to unlock investment in one of the cheapest forms of energy. Ultimately this will bring down household bills and improve our energy security.”

The amendment had been signed by more than 20 backbench Conservatives, including former prime minister Liz Truss and several other former ministers.

Other signatories include former party chairman Sir Jake Berry, former chief whip Wendy Morton, Wales Committee chairman Stephen Crabb and former levelling up secretary Sir Simon Clarke.

The current rules, introduced under David Cameron in 2015, require councils to draw up detailed plans showing all the areas suitable for onshore wind development before new wind farms can go ahead, and also mean that proposals can be blocked even if just a single person objects to them.