Labour would lift block on onshore windfarms, says Ed Miliband

Labour has claimed a “culture of inertia and stasis” has blocked renewable energy projects under the Conservatives and says the party will overturn a de facto onshore wind ban “at the stroke of a pen” if it wins the general election.

The shadow energy secretary, Ed Miliband, told energy industry executives at a conference in London on Tuesday that Labour would immediately rip up a decade-long effective block on large onshore wind developments in England if elected.

Miliband told the International Energy Week conference that the government had “ducked” difficult decisions, and could have overturned the rules “very easily”.

In September the government claimed it had “lifted” the ban on onshore windfarms, in place since 2015, which had allowed a project to be blocked by a single objection.

Critics have argued that the update to planing rules did not go far enough to encourage applications, which the government rejected. The Guardian revealed that no new plans had been submitted last year, despite the update.

Miliband said on Tuesday: “With a Labour government, you will know as businesses and investors that capricious decision-making will not rule out your technology. The current government could overturn this ban very easily. But there is a culture of inertia and stasis.

“Difficult decisions are ducked. Consultations are used to avoid decision-making. This institutional inertia is just not good enough – it blocks business investment and drives up bills for the British people.”

He said overturning the ban would be “one of my first acts” if he was made energy secretary.

Labour’s energy policy has been under the microscope since it made an embarrassing U-turn on a flagship promise to spend £28bn a year on green projects amid spending concerns.

The party will also be under immediate pressure on taking power to hit a target of decarbonising the electricity grid in Great Britain by 2030, with question marks over how achievable the goal is to achieve.

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“This is not just a climate mission, it is a security mission, a growth mission, a cost of living mission,” Miliband said, adding that the drive would create jobs and lower energy bills.

The party has said it will speed up planning processes to aid Britain’s drive to net zero carbon, toughen an existing windfall tax on oil and gas companies and create GB Energy, a publicly owned company headquartered in Scotland and designed to £8bn invest in clean power.

The government has previously said its changes to the national planning policy framework to make it “easier and quicker for onshore wind projects to come forward”.