Government blows cold on wind farms, but how much energy do they generate for Northamptonshire?

Strategy ignores calls to relax planning regulations around land-based turbines

By Andrew Dowdeswell, Data Reporter
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 1:17 pm

The government has reduced plans for more onshore wind farms in its strategy to ensure the UK's energy security.

Wind turbines generate thousands of megawatt-hours of electricity every year in Northamptonshire.

But the removal of targets for land-based wind turbines has been criticised by Labour, which had called for a relaxing of the planning regulations around onshore developments before Boris Johnson published his energy strategy earlier this month.

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Ministers believe onshore wind farms, such as those in Northamptonshire, are controversial because of their visual impact

Latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show that in 2020:

Northampton produced 31 megawatt-hours of electricity through two wind turbines — up from 25 MWh the year before. Among three recorded renewable energy sources, onshore wind ranked last in the area. Sewage gas produced the most.■ Kettering produced 147 GWh of electricity through nine wind turbines, up from 118 GWh the year before. Onshore wind ranked first among five renewable energy sources.■ Corby produced 1,372 MWh of electricity through two wind turbines — Strategy up from 1,103 MWh the year before. Onshore wind ranked last among four renewable energy sources with landfill gas producing the most.■ Wellingborough produced 46 MWh of electricity through two wind turbines — up from 37 MWh the year before. Among four recorded renewable energy sources, onshore wind ranked last in the area. Solar power produced the most.■ East Northamptonshire produced 67,532 MWh of electricity through five wind turbines — up from 56,802 MWh the year before. Among four recorded renewable energy sources, onshore wind ranked second behind solar power.■ South Northamptonshire produced 18,796 MWh of electricity through 11 wind turbines — up from 15,265 MWh the year before. Among four recorded renewable energy sources, onshore wind ranked second, behind solar power.■ Daventry produced 206 GWh of electricity through 20 wind turbines, up from 171 GWh the year before. Onshore wind ranked first among five renewable energy sources.

The government’s energy strategy aims to boost new nuclear power, offshore wind and hydrogen — but stops short of increasing onshore wind capacity.

Mr Johnson said onshore wind farms are controversial because of their visual impact but pledged to produce more offshore wind power by 2030.

“Wholesale changes” to planning regulations for onshore wind will not be introduced, the Government said, but it will instead consult with communities who wish to host the infrastructure in return for lower energy bills.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband told the BBC that Britain's energy policy is being “held to ransom by Tory backbenchers."

He added: "The Government has rejected the cheapest, lowest cost, most secure forms of power we have, including onshore wind.

RenewableUK’s chief executive Dan McGrail and Ana Musat, head of policy at Aldersgate Group, a non-profit alliance of business leaders lobbying for a sustainable economy, urged the Government to reconsider changing onshore wind farm planning rules.

He said: "We need to make use of every tool in the box to boost our energy independence.

"So it's right that government is looking again at planning rules so that onshore wind can proceed in parts of England where there is support, as it's the cheapest source of new power and the quickest to build.