Tory voters back onshore wind

The then prime minister Boris Johnson and the Rishi Sunak, then chancellor of the Exchequer, visit Octopus Energy in central London. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street. 

Could Tory MPs lose votes among their base support because of the party's perverse energy policies? The answer is blowing in the wind.

It’s past time to end the ridiculous planning system which makes it easier to open a new coal mine than get new onshore wind in England.

A staggering 83 per cent of people want the UK Government to move the economy away from the fossil fuels and towards clean, carbon safe renewable energy, according to the latest polling.

And just 10 per cent of voters agree with the current Tory approach of making it harder to gain planning permission for new renewable energy projects than for coal, oil and gas infrastructure. The survey was conducted by YouGov for the Warm this Winter coalition as the government’s own onshore wind consultation came to an end.

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And 81 percent of Tory voters would support a renewable energy project in their own neighbourhood: Conservative MPs in marginal seats would do well to take heed of how unpopular their government position on energy is currently.


The climate charity Possible along with Uplift UK, Greenpeace, WWF and Friends of the Earth, responded to the consultation to express growing concern that the government’s proposed policy changes will not remove the effective ban on onshore wind developments.

Alethea Warrington, campaigner at climate charity Possible, said: “Households and communities across the UK will continue to face unaffordable energy costs and the escalating impacts of the climate crisis while the government wastes time tweaking the wording of the virtual ban on onshore wind.

"It’s past time to end the ridiculous planning system which makes it easier to open a new coal mine than get new onshore wind in England. The government should get on with the job of making the UK’s energy system clean, cheap and secure, and unblock wind.”

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift UK, said: “It is utterly astonishing that this government is still delaying the development of one the cheapest sources of energy we have, onshore wind, with the energy price crisis at the root of so many of the problems we're experiencing.

"Millions of households are in fuel poverty, bills are set to rise again in a month, and yet there is no plan for fixing the UK's broken energy system.


"The only way we're going to permanently lower energy bills is to get off gas by accelerating renewables, which we're lucky enough to have in abundance, and through upgrading homes with better insulation and heat pumps.

She added: "Other countries are doing it and bringing down bills, so why can't we? This government needs to get on with it."

It’s past time to end the ridiculous planning system which makes it easier to open a new coal mine than get new onshore wind in England.

The charities have expressed concern and disappointment that the government has refused to remove the planning blocks on new wind, instead opting for minor changes to the wording that will not allow the expansion of clean energy that is needed to tackle the energy cost crisis and the climate crisis.

New polling conducted by YouGov has shown that 83 per cent of people would like to see the government do more to shift the UK away from energy generated from oil and gas and towards energy generated by renewables.

Moreover, 50 per cent of people think that there should be more planning restrictions on oil and gas projects than renewable projects, while 28 per cent of people think that there should be the same planning restrictions on all types of energy regardless of their impact on the climate.


And just 10 per cent of people agree with the government’s current approach of having more planning restrictions on new onshore wind than on new fossil fuels projects. 

Onshore wind and solar remains highly popular across the country. A total of 77 per cent of people think the government should use new wind and solar farms to reduce electricity bills and 76 per cent of people support building renewable energy projects in their local area.

Conservative voters are - perhaps surprisingly - particularly supportive of the shift away from fossil fuels: a stunning 81 per cent of 2019 Tory voters would support a renewable energy project in their immediate area.

A uniquely restrictive planning system has been imposed on onshore wind projects since 2015 - indeed, new wind projects were effectively banned in England.

Campaigners have been trying to get the government to unblock onshore wind for years.


With the energy crisis erupting in 2022, there were renewed calls for such action in order to help bring down energy prices and insulate the UK from volatile gas markets.

In December 2022 it was announced that there would be a consultation on onshore wind to review how local authorities could demonstrate local support for projects.

However, once it was launched, campaign groups realised that the suggested amendments within the consultation were incredibly weak, and would not actually allow new onshore wind projects to come forwards in England.

Campaigners are now calling for the government to end the uniquely restrictive planning system which applies to onshore wind, for there to be a taskforce and deployment roadmap for onshore wind, and to ensure all planning policy is aligned with the goal of tackling the climate crisis.

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Possible.

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