Last week I signed a joint letter from MPs that calls on the Government to ensure that applications for new onshore wind turbines face a fair and reasonable local planning process.
Since 2015, the Government has blocked new onshore wind projects by imposing unique planning barriers to their construction in England. The trade association RenewableUK has shown that new onshore wind installations fell by nearly 80% in 2018, to their lowest level since 2011 and the Government’s own figures show a 95% decrease in applications for new onshore wind capacity since June 2015.
The Government’s effective ban on onshore wind power – introduced with little effective consultation, parliamentary debate or legislation – is short-sighted, not evidence-based and has been a retrograde step in our efforts to tackle climate change.
In fact, while making it more difficult to develop wind energy, the Government has sought to weaken planning legislation for fracking that would make the UK more dependent on fossil fuels. I campaigned against fracking before I was first elected as an MO in 2015 and am delighted that Labour policy is now unequivocal – the next Labour Government will ban fracking, no ifs, no buts.
The Government’s energy policies must reflect the scale, importance, and severity of the environmental problems we face, which is why I supported the Labour Party’s motion to declare a climate and environmental emergency.
Facing up to the worsening environmental crises means reducing our greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible so that they reach net zero before 2050. It means properly funding environmental protection and legislating to restore our wildlife and biodiversity. It means undertaking a green industrial revolution to invest in renewable energy and create new, well paid, green jobs.
Wind turbines by themselves will not solve the momentous environmental problems we face, but they are a necessary part of the solution. As such, the Government should be encouraging, not discouraging, investment in onshore wind energy.