The government has launched an open consultation with proposals to relax onshore wind planning regulations, as part of wider reforms to national planning policy in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill.

You can read our initial statement on the announcement here.

Read on for more detail on our key takeaways from the consultation:

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ has launched an open consultation on the relaxation of onshore wind planning regulations as part of wider reforms to national planning policy in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill.

Onshore wind as key to net zero delivery 

The launch of this consultation marks a clear moment of recognition from the government on the critical role that onshore wind must play in delivering net zero, especially given that evidence suggests overwhelming public support for renewables and onshore wind:  

“Onshore wind is an efficient, cheap and widely supported technology – we know that achieving net zero and meeting the UK’s legally binding decarbonisation targets will require an increase in locally supported onshore wind.” 

Regen’s analysis for our ‘A Day in the Life’ project with National Grid ESO estimates that 35 GW of onshore wind is needed by 2035 to achieve a decarbonised power system and we welcome this consultation as an important step towards that target after years of stalled deployment.  

Relaxed rules to recognise local support 

The consultation’s key proposal is making changes to Footnote 54 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which currently dictates that onshore wind can only be developed in areas identified in local or neighbourhood plans and allows one local objection to derail a project: 

“Our proposed changes to the existing National Planning Policy Framework Footnote 54 will ensure that: 

  • Permission is predicated on satisfactorily addressing the planning impacts of onshore wind projects as identified by local communities, and on demonstrable local support for the scheme, learning from best practice and using new digital engagement techniques. 

  • Local authorities have a range of routes to demonstrate their support for certain areas in their boundaries to be suitable for onshore wind, outside the overly rigid requirement for onshore wind sites to be designated in the development plan.” 

Local authorities will now be able to demonstrate support in ways beyond designating sites in development plans, and planning permission will be based on impacts having been “satisfactorily addressed” and projects gaining “demonstrable local support”.  

Whilst we welcome the move away from current rigid planning rules towards a more ‘flexible’ approach to local consenting, further detailed planning guidance from government, including what ‘satisfactory’ assessment of local impacts means in practice, will be key to ensure projects can progress.  

Engaging local communities 

The consultation also highlights updated guidance for developers on community engagement: 

The updated guidance articulates our expectation that developers go further in their engagement with communities, such as investing in digital and online methods of engagement and revising the size and layout of projects in response to community feedback.” 

Regen’s view is that it is essential for communities to have their voice heard in the decision-making process to ensure long-term support and progress to net zero. Local authorities must work closely with onshore developers to engage communities, but any new arrangements must be workable and practical. 

What about local benefits? 

As well as having a voice in the development process, the consultation restates the commitment from the British Energy Security Strategy to allow ‘host’ communities to participate and benefit from onshore wind, promising to 

“…consult in the coming months on the development of local partnerships with supportive communities who wish to host onshore wind in exchange for community benefits such as discounted energy bills” 

Whilst the consultation indicates a move in the right direction to encourage local benefit, Regen has long been calling for clear models for community benefit including our work on local energy supply and benefit schemes and shared community ownership models. Back in 2014, Regen was part of the ‘Shared Ownership Taskforce’ which proposed models to enable local communities to have an ownership share in new onshore wind farms.  

Reviving the project pipeline to accelerate development 

The pipeline for onshore projects in England is near empty following years of tight restrictions – as demonstrated in our blog and graphic published earlier this year which serves as a stark illustration of the stalled deployment of onshore wind in England: 


New projects will need support to get off the ground and be given the right conditions to progress. 

Further details of the Electricity Generator Levy have also been announced, which will be highly relevant to the business case for new onshore wind projects. Notably, the reduction in energy threshold from 100 GWh to 50 GWh will broaden the scope to apply to onshore wind projects over 20 MW.  

Next steps – having your say in the consultation process 

The consultation is open until 2 March 2023. You can respond directly online via the online consultation portal Citizen Space here, or by emailing a response to 

Regen will be pulling together a response to the consultation, a key part of which will involve getting input from across the sector and from community energy groups. Please get in touch with Emma at if you would like to input.  

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