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Changes to onshore wind worry investors

Words: Laura Edgar
Renewable energy

Renewable energy industry professionals have expressed concerns over onshore wind measures announced in the Queen's Speech.

The energy bill will make legislative changes so that the secretary of state’s consent for wind farms of more than 50 megawatts won’t be required.

Local authorities in England and Wales will instead be able to make decisions on wind farm planning applications.

The commitment to end new subsidy for onshore wind farms was confirmed in the Queen’s Speech, but it will be delivered separately by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Maria McCaffrey, chief executive of RenewableUK, a trade association for wind, wave and tidal energy industries, said singling out one of “the most popular and lowest-cost forms of energy technology for different treatment in the planning system sends a worrying message to investors across the energy sector."

On the other hand, Energy Networks Association chief executive David Smith looks forward to the energy bill because it provides “greater stability for investment”. 

However, he added: “The changes around onshore wind could risk introducing a level of instability for network planning and it is important that this is avoided.”

McCaffrey emphasised that onshore wind is committed to being a “good neighbour to the local communities in which it is hosted”, as it provides “substantial economic advantages to the region” including community benefits, “so we are confident that local authorities should recognise the value of these projects”.

She added: “We do hold concerns for the potential for delay of these significant infrastructure projects, so it is very important that local authorities are given full support and resourcing to enable them to make swift decisions.”