I appreciate that this is an important issue and I agree with the points you raise.
As you note, since 2015, the UK Government has blocked new onshore wind projects by preventing them from accessing a route to market and imposing unique planning barriers to their construction south of the border. I believe this effective ban on onshore wind, introduced with little effective consultation, parliamentary debate or legislation, has been a retrograde step in our efforts to tackle climate change.
As you may be aware, planning is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. I understand that the onshore wind sector is valuable to Scotland’s economy and local communities, supporting an estimated 7,500 jobs in Scotland – or 58% of the total for across the UK – and generating more than £3 billion in turnover in 2015.
In December 2017, the Scottish Government published its Onshore Wind Policy Statement. The statement acknowledged that Scotland met the equivalent of an estimated 54% of electricity demand from renewables in 2016, ahead of the 2020 target of 100%. The Government has also stated that a major review of the Scottish planning system is well under way and will “continue to reflect the important role of renewable energy and energy infrastructure.” I know my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament will be following any developments closely.
At the June 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to renewable energy projects, and to ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030. I believe there should be significant extra investment in the Scottish economy including for a Scottish industrial strategy that supports renewable energy generation.
I can therefore assure you that I will continue to oppose the policies holding back onshore wind across the UK, and call for an energy system that puts tackling climate change at its heart.