2nd October 2023
“Planning policy changes made with immediate effect aim to make it easier for onshore wind projects to be developed. Local authorities will in theory have more flexibility to assess the impact of onshore wind developments, but community support will still be required.“
Planning policy changes introduced in 2015 required the backing of the local community for wind energy development, so that in effect an objection from just one person could prevent an onshore wind development. Following a written ministerial statement from Michael Gove, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has updated the onshore wind development policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) . The changes are designed to make it easier for onshore wind development sites to be approved. Going forward, local authorities will potentially have more flexibility. In addition to allocating sites in a Development plan, the NPPF refers to Local Development Orders, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. In the case of LDOs it is said that they need community support. For determination of planning applications, the site in question has to be in an area already identified as suitable in a Development Plan or Supplementary Planning Document and the impacts identified by the local community have to be addressed. The proposal also has to have community support.
Unfortunately, the subtle shift from having the backing of the local community to having its support is almost imperceptible.
Whilst this is ostensibly a ‘win’ for developers, it’s important to note that community buy-in remains essential, and some critics have suggested the changes don’t go anywhere near far enough to open up the potential for significant increased onshore wind development. Full details of how communities backing onshore wind are still to be confirmed, and this topic remains one to watch.
Walker Morris’ specialist Planning & Environment and Infrastructure & Energy lawyers can help businesses to successfully navigate, and to capitalise upon, the various onshore wind and other planning and development changes on the horizon. We can work seamlessly across the relevant legal disciplines and affected sectors to help businesses working in the infrastructure development environment in a variety of ways.
We can assist in an advisory capacity, keeping clients fully informed as to legal/regulatory changes and requirements. We can undertake contract- and policy/procedure- reviews to highlight where new terms or approaches might be preferable or needed. We can help clients when it comes to liaising with communities and local authorities or regulators as required. Where necessary, we can help with contractual negotiations and with drafting new contractual arrangements or variations. If/when complaints or queries do arise, we can provide strategic and dispute resolution advice and we can guide businesses through any investigations or complaints-handling processes. In addition, we can support development clients from cradle to grave, offering strategic, risk management, practical and transactional advice in relation to all aspects of infrastructure projects and real estate/planning transactions.
For tailored advice in connection with any onshore wind or other development projects, or with any planning proposals or concerns, please contact Richard Sagar, Paul Dinning, or any member of the Planning & Environment or Infrastructure & Energy teams.
 The updated NPPF is accessible here