Skip to main content

Are you shore, Rishi?

By George Thomas
17 November 2022

By George Thomas

Labour leader Keir Starmer last week claimed that the UK Government’s effective ban on new onshore wind farms is costing the country billions in energy charges. 

The UK Labour Party believes that its proposed investment in wind power will save taxpayers up to £93 billion in cheaper energy bills. £16 billion of this will come from onshore wind – a saving that Sir Keir states will continue to be lost until planning rules restricting onshore wind development are torn up.   

Ramping up wind production is clearly a big part of Labour’s plan to make the UK a clean energy superpower, having already pledged to double onshore wind and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. Judging from his comments last week, the Labour leader has no plans on reneging on this commitment and we should, therefore, expect to see large-scale changes to infrastructure planning regulations if Labour comes into power. 

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng had promised to do the same as part of their plan for growth. Whilst adopting policies from the shortest reigning Prime Minister of all time could be seen as risky, it does look like a savvy move when you consider Opinium’s latest opinion poll on investment in various energy sources. 

The poll suggests a growing hostility amongst British people towards non-renewable energy sources. It states that the British public overwhelmingly supports the construction of new wind farms, with 51 per cent strongly in favour, 23 per cent somewhat in favour, with just 2 per cent strongly opposed and 4 per cent somewhat opposed. In total, 74 per cent of the sample were in support of building more wind farms, and this included 72 per cent of Conservative voters. 

You can’t help but feel that a supplementary question is required on polls such as this: “Okay, so would you have one built in your community?” The answer to that is often no, which is why there is a ban in the first place. 
You’ve only got to look towards my North Wales homeland this week, where RWE’s latest plans to bring 13 turbines have already been met with fierce local opposition, having only gone to consultation in recent days. Plans to bring turbines to the countryside anywhere across the UK are likely to be met with similar backlash.  

Despite this, Keir Starmer has prioritised the creation of “tens of thousands of good quality skilled jobs", even if it "means some communities adapting to a new landscape". As ever with Keir Starmer, you’d expect that a lot of calculation has gone into developing this position and he seems intent on developing a drumbeat of support. 

Of course, the opinion that matters (for the time being at least) is that of Rishi Sunak. Will he cede ground to the opposition and u-turn on his onshore wind position? He seems pretty regimented at the moment, but with widespread public support to move away from fossil fuels and expand the country’s wind power capacity, it doesn’t seem incomprehensible. 

This article was originally published in Advocacy Local’s Politics and Planning Newsletter. To receive our fortnightly newsletter straight to your inbox, subscribe here: