Campaigners at the Good Law Project have begun legal action against D-ESNZ and planning ministers over the government’s exclusion of land-based wind power from planning guidelines covering England’s structurally significant power projects.
The legal ginger group says its action last year secured a concession from ministers that they had lifted David Cameron’s de facto ban on new onshore wind parks. But ministers are still dragging their feet, the GLP alleges, over approving turbines in fields, Britain’s cheapest power source.
GLP cites the view of Scottish Power boss Keith Anderson, who this month told Parliament’s energy select committee that England remains a ‘godforsaken country’ for onshore wind.
Decrying to MPs what he called England’s “cumbersome, slow, difficult and uncertain” regime for approving land-based turbines, Anderson called for major changes by ministers to national planning guidelines.
Also seeking restoration of terrestrial turbines is top planning body the National Infrastructure Commission. Last April, as cited by the GLP, the commission specified that land-based turbines in England should brought back into line with existing approved energy sources, ready to be fast-tracked through the planning process.
The GLP want to know why ministers made no mention of onshore wind when recently revising the National Policy Statement.
Its legal director Emma Dearnaley claimed the government has been “stubbornly refusing” to back onshore wind.
“Instead,” Dearnaley said, “in the middle of a climate crisis, ministers are focusing their efforts on keeping the fossil fuel industry thriving for decades to come.”
New onshore wind approvals in England plummeted after 2016, after the Cameron government singled out turbines to lose their status as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects under the regime’s energy provisions.
Developers complain that England in 2023 erected fewer turbines than Ukraine, emeshed in fighting off Russia’s invasion.
Advised by law firm Leigh Day, the GLP campaigners sent D-ESNZ a ‘pre-action protocol letter’ requiring energy secretary Claire Coutinho’s reply this week. They await her response.