Unfit planning system means 4,700-year wait for onshore wind

Aaron Morby 4 months ago

The current planning system will fail to deliver the Government’s ambitions to build infrastructure to meet net zero goals and housing needs.

That is the conclusion of a damning report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, which is calling for a complete reset of planning.

It warns that it would take 4,700 years for England to reach the onshore wind capacity called for by government advisers, at the current rate of development.

Progress in England was stalled in 2015 when planning laws were changed to make it more difficult to gain permission for new onshore wind turbines – in what was effectively a ban. 

Since then only 17 onshore wind farms have been approved, generating just 6.7 megawatts of power – equivalent to just 0.02% of the on-shore total needed in England based on National Grid estimates.

The IPPR report calls for restrictions on onshore wind and solar power to be reduced and for local authorities to be compelled to identify land suitable for onshore wind and solar generation. 

It also calls for big planning reforms to get many more houses built, while also moving faster to meet net zero targets.

In particular, the report calls for decisions on new home building to be linked into plans for low-carbon transport networks.

Between them, housing and transport account for over 40% of total emissions, but since 1990 emissions from both sectors have barely declined. 

The report also sheds fresh light on the critical failures of the current system. These include the lack of clear rules for developers and local authorities on when planning permission should be granted, leading to uncertainty and speculative buying of land. 

It argues that local authorities should be compelled to draw up detailed plans for development in their areas that integrate environmental targets, to provide greater certainty.

It proposes that if a planned house building project meets new net zero targets alongside other local requirements, it should be given an automatic green light, removing much of councils’ discretion from the system. 

It calls for national and local house building targets to be reinstated so that councils can be compelled to enable more homes to be built. 

But the report calls for the public to be given a more meaningful say over the future of their local areas than they do at present. 

Luke Murphy, IPPR associate director for energy, climate, housing, and infrastructure, said: “The current planning system in England is not remotely fit for purpose to build a net zero world, restore nature, or meet housing need.

“Fundamental planning reform is needed to accelerate efforts to reduce emissions and restore nature, rollout renewable energy generation, and to deliver the level of housebuilding that the country so desperately needs.”


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