This insight paper, funded by the European Climate Foundation, outlines the main issues facing the local planning system when it comes to renewables and sets out the reforms needed to support the transition to net zero power. 

The volume of planning applications for renewable energy projects of all scales in England has more than trebled in the last decade and must yet rise significantly if we are to meet our net zero targets. However, the local planning system is not able to effectively process clean energy projects at scale. Local Planning for Renewables: Five key policy challenges looks at the major issues faced by the local planning system in England and the reforms required to support our net zero goals. 

These five key challenges are:

  1. A lack of priority for renewables within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and local plans
  2. Under resourcing and high staff turnover at local authorities
  3. A lack of clarity on when planning permission should be refused due to the character of the area
  4. The total stalling of onshore wind deployment
  5. Insufficient engagement with local communities on clean energy projects.


To address these, the report recommends that: 

  1. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) updates the NPPF to prioritise net zero and renewable energy
  2. DLUHC reviews pay, working conditions and career progression for local authority planners to address persistent resourcing challenges
  3. DLUHC updates the NPPF to ensure a balance between landscape protection and the need to address climate change
  4. Political parties make a manifesto commitment to remove the additional restrictions for onshore wind, set out in footnote 58 of the NPPF
  5. DESNZ publishes best-practice guidance on community engagement and benefits for all onshore renewables and take forward the findings of the 2015 Shared Ownership Taskforce.

To discuss this area of our work, please contact Rebecca Windemer, Regen’s planning and communities lead. Read Rebecca’s blog on this subject here. We are continuing to work in this space and will be shaping our ideas through our Planning Working Group, to which Regen members can sign up here.

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