Labour would remove Cameron’s On Shore Wind Embargo



FTThe next Labour government would change the planning system to make it easier to erect onshore wind turbines, reversing a virtual ban imposed by David Cameron three years ago. The policy is set out in a new document called “The Green Transformation: Labour’s Environment Policy” that will be published on Sunday. Labour would also support tidal lagoons, ban fracking and invest £2.3bn a year upgrading insulation in 4m properties. However, the paper also spells out a subtle shift in the party’s longstanding policy of getting 60 per cent of Britain’s energy from low-carbon sources by 2030. That framework has been shifted so the target is “within 12 years of coming to power”. Britain already receives more than half of its electricity from low-carbon sources such as nuclear, wind and solar. But getting 60 per cent of all energy from such sources is far more challenging because “energy” includes the electricity system and heating as well as some transport. “We’ve got a team of engineers and industry experts working on our proposals at the moment about . . . how we get there,” said Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow business secretary. The document says Labour would “remove the barriers to onshore wind put in place by the Conservative government” and stop “chopping and changing” energy policy. In 2015 the Tory government pledged to “halt the spread of onshore wind farms” because they often failed to win over local residents. The move was part of an attempt to thwart growing support for the rightwing UK Independence Party. Mr Cameron ordered more stringent planning conditions on new onshore wind farms. Councils were ordered to specify in their local planning documents that their area was suitable for wind power — which very few local planning committees have done. Ministers also cancelled financial subsidies for new onshore wind turbines from April 2016, prompting a dramatic drop in applications in England. “They’ve killed it off,” said Ms Long-Bailey, who argued that the price of wind power had plummeted in recent years for both onshore and offshore. Recommended Sam Arie Renewables are primed to enter the global energy race “We don’t think that the government’s restrictive approach is helpful . . . we want to reform that.” Labour’s new guidance would still ensure that community opinions were heard, she said, but added: “We want to make it easier for onshore [wind power] to take place.” Labour is still unclear as to what role nuclear power would play under a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, a past critic of the nuclear industry. Most experts believe nuclear is needed as part of a low-carbon energy “mix” because it is less intermittent than solar and wind energy. Labour’s paper suggests greater use of “local, micro grids and batteries” to store renewable energy. However Ms Long-Bailey said nuclear would be part of the plan. “I would state quite firmly that we have to recognise that nuclear will form part of the mix, going forward.” Labour’s plans to step up household insulation would have the state pay for upgrades to low-income households and social housing. Meanwhile it would provide interest-free loans to more affluent households. A similar scheme called the “Green Deal” set up by the Cameron government had poor take-up — it charged an effective interest rate of 7 per cent

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