Revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) were published setting out updated policy on planning for onshore wind development in England. Following consultation held last year, the Government has amended the planning tests for new onshore wind developments to allow local authorities to respond more flexibly to suitable opportunities, whilst respecting the views of their local communities. The stated aim is to both speed up and support the delivery of renewable energy provision (and there is an interesting crossover with the current Government consultation on reforms to improve the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) consenting process, which relates to large scale energy projects and has predominantly dealt with offshore wind proposals to date).
This is a welcome change in the drive to diversify our energy mix and loosens the de facto ban on onshore wind that has been in place since 2015; whilst many in the industry would want to see these changes go further, for others onshore expansion will be unpopular due to concerns over visual and environmental impacts.
The amendments to the NPPF relate to the paragraphs setting out guidance on planning and climate change with changes to paragraph 155a and the insertion of new text at paragraph 158c to add weight to the way in which on shore wind sites are recognised and to align with a new footnote (53a) which sets out the various different routes in which wind energy development can be permitted. Finally amendments to footnote (54) are made to further align with new footnote (53a.)
These latest amendments were just some of the NPPF changes the Government consulted on last year to reflect their proposed planning policy changes. The consultation closed on 2 March 2023 and received over 26,000 responses – the outcome of which has not yet been fully reported; it looks like we will have to wait a little longer for these further changes to the NPPF, particularly those which deal with the pressing issues of housing delivery and which twin track with the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill currently making its way through Parliament.