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Onshore wind policy challenge

Government’s onshore wind snub faces legal challenge from Good Law Project and Leigh Day
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Onshore wind farm located in the mountains of Northern Ireland

Good Law Project and Leigh Day have launched a legal challenge against the government over its exclusion of onshore wind development from its National Policy Statement for renewable energy.

This comes in the wake of Scottish Power’s Chief Executive telling a Parliamentary Committee that England is a ‘godforsaken’ place for onshore wind.

Last week the government published its revised policy on energy infrastructure, but ministers failed to define onshore wind developments as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

This would have allowed applications for new onshore wind projects to be fast-tracked through the planning system.

Cheap renewable energy

Despite being one of the cheapest ways to generate electricity, the government removed onshore wind from its list of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects in 2016.

The National Infrastructure Commission says that this – alongside the introduction of tougher planning restrictions – led to a more than 80% decrease in onshore wind installation between 2016 and 2022.

In 2021, Good Law Project forced ministers to review their energy plans, and two years later the government claimed that it had lifted the de facto ban on onshore wind projects.

But between this announcement and December 2023, no projects to generate power with onshore wind turbines were submitted to planning authorities.

‘The Government is stubbornly refusing to back one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. Instead, in the middle of a climate and cost of living crisis, Ministers are focusing their efforts on keeping the fossil fuel industry thriving for decades to come.

‘It’s hard to see how we will reach net zero without forcing the Government to unleash the potential of onshore wind by removing all the barriers they have put up in front of it. If we need to take Ministers to court to do so, then we will.’

Legal director of Good Law Project

Onshore wind and net zero

The new legal challenge by Good Law Project, represented by Leigh Day, wants to force Ministers ‘to unleash the potential of onshore wind’.

The challenge focuses on the government’s failure to give ‘reasons’ under section 5 of the Planning Act 2008 for how its exclusion of onshore wind is consistent with a policy of meeting the net zero target.

It follows a recommendation by National Infrastructure Commission that ‘onshore wind should be included in the revised energy National Policy Statement and brought back within the scope of the Planning Act 2008’.

‘The Secretary of State is under a legal duty to explain how the exclusion of onshore wind is compatible its Net Zero policy, yet there has been a complete failure to do so. This is compounded by the fact that the Government promised a review of nationally significant planning policy, including the exclusion of onshore wind, following the enactment of the Net Zero Target. If our client receives an unsatisfactory response to its pre-action letter, then we will advise on a claim for judicial review.’

Leigh Day solicitor

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