The lifting of a destructive ban on new onshore wind power is a breath of fresh air
The government’s decision to overturn an effective five-year-old ban on new onshore wind power generation is hugely welcome. Wind provides the cheapest energy, with the first subsidy-free contracts for offshore projects awarded last year. Onshore wind is even cheaper. It is also popular, scoring above other infrastructure (including roads and railway stations) in opinion polls despite the efforts of climate denialists to portray it as a public nuisance. Most importantly, it is renewable and very low-carbon. Unlike oil, gas and coal, wind does not produce greenhouse gases (apart from in the initial phase of manufacturing and installation) and is not something we can run out of. Unlike nuclear, it does not produce toxic waste as a byproduct.
The government’s climate advisers say that onshore wind power capacity will need to triple in 15 years if the UK is to meet the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. This is a huge challenge, and forms just one part of an even bigger one. The good news is that the UK’s wind sector is already – and despite David Cameron’s foolish decision to stymie it – a world-beating one. While the solar power industry was seriously damaged by the removal of subsidies, with domestic installations collapsing after the withdrawal of feed-in tariffs, wind companies were able to shift resources and expertise offshore.