The UK government has abandoned its opposition to subsidising new onshore windfarms, four years after ministers scrapped support for new projects.
The U-turn follows the government’s commitment to cut emissions to virtually zero by 2050, a feat that its official climate advisers believe will require the UK’s onshore wind-power capacity to triple in the next 15 years.
The plans to renew support for onshore wind were outlined to green campaigners by policy advisers at No 10 on Monday morning and are expected to be announced officially by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) later on Monday.
Alok Sharma, the secretary of state for business and energy, is expected to say that ending the UK’s contribution to the climate crisis “means making the most of every technology available, and that includes backing more onshore wind and solar projects”.
Sharma is expected to add that the government will do this “in a way that works for everyone, listening to local communities and giving them an effective voice in decisions that affect them”.
Alethea Warrington, a campaigner at the climate change charity Possible, said: “After years of campaigning, today we can finally celebrate the UK’s cheapest new energy source – onshore wind – being brought in from the cold.
“As our cheapest source of clean energy, onshore wind is hugely popular with people in the UK, who understand that we need to use all the tools in the box to tackle the climate crisis.”
The government’s current energy policies have led to a sharp decline in the number of new onshore windfarms since a decision to block onshore windfarms from competing for subsidies was put in place by the former Tory prime minister David Cameron in 2016.
The decision has caused the rollout of new onshore wind power capacity to fall to its lowest level since 2011 last year, prompting warnings from the clean energy industry that the UK risks missing its climate targets unless it allows new onshore wind farms to be built.
The Guardian revealed late last year that Scottish Power has begun plans for a major expansion of onshore windfarm projects across Scotland in anticipation of a government U-turn on support for wind-power projects.