Rishi Sunak 'set to climb down over onshore wind farm ban'

Is Rishi really in charge? Sunak ‘is set to climb down over onshore wind farm ban’ after caving to Tory rebels on housebuilding targets

  • Rishi Sunak set to make a fresh climbdown in the face of threatened Tory revolt
  • PM reportedly ready to reach a compromise with MPs over onshore wind farms
  • He has already backed down on housebuilding targets in levelling up legislation 

Rishi Sunak is set to make a further climbdown in the face of a threatened Tory rebellion by backing down over onshore wind farms.

The Prime Minister has already reached a deal with Conservative rebels on housebuilding targets, as part of the Government’s flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

And Mr Sunak will now also reportedly reach a compromise with a group of around 30 backbench Tory MPs over wind turbines.

The effort to overturn the de facto ban on new onshore wind farms is being led by Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary.

He is attempting to force ministers to alter planning rules within six months to allow local authorities to grant onshore wind applications.

Mr Clarke’s proposed amendment to the levelling up legislation is being backed by Mr Sunak’s immediate two predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

This has dramatically heightened the threat of a House of Commons defeat for Mr Sunak.

But, according to the Telegraph, the PM is ready to cede ground with ministers continuing to hold talks with the rebels.

One possible compromise is allowing new onshore farms if developers can show that there is consent locally, the newspaper reported.

Rishi Sunak will reportedly reach a compromise with a group of around 30 backbench Tory MPs over wind turbines

An effort to overturn the de facto ban on new onshore wind farms is being led by Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary

Mr Clarke’s proposed amendment to the levelling up legislation is being backed by the PM’s immediate two predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson

During this summer’s Tory leadership contest, Mr Sunak vowed not to ease restrictions on the construction of new onshore wind farms – a position he has maintained since entering Downing Street.

There has been a de facto ban on new onshore wind farms since 2014 when former PM David Cameron tightened planning rules for onshore wind developments, with a requirement for more local consultation.

Under pressure from his backbenchers, Mr Cameron claimed the public had become ‘fed up’ with onshore wind farms and also scrapped their Government subsidies.

As a result, no new substantive onshore wind farm has received planning consent since 2015.

But, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting volatility on energy markets, there have been calls for the ban to be lifted.

Earlier this year, prior to his ousting as PM, Mr Johnson was revealed to be planning to reverse the reforms brought in by Mr Cameron.

But he later backtracked and promised not to introduce ‘wholesale changes’.

Mr Johnson’s successor, Ms Truss, quietly lifted the effective ban on new onshore wind farms as part of her disastrous mini-Budget.

Like most of Ms Truss’s agenda, that was soon abandoned as her premiership fell apart in the face of financial chaos. 

Mr Clarke yesterday pointed to opinion polling that showed two-thirds (66 per cent) of Tory voters supported the ban being overturned.

‘We should return the decision to local communities rather than have a de facto blanket national ban,’ he said.

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