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Onshore wind farms ban to be eased following backbench Tory pressure | Climate News

The government is expected to relax an effective ban on new onshore wind farm projects amid pressure from Conservative rebels.

The changes will likely mean new rules for winning planning permission, so instead of requiring complete agreement, projects will instead only have to demonstrate local support.

Sir Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in 2021, has led Tory backbench pressure over the issue.

He said he wanted a change to the current rules that allow a single objection to block a new onshore development.

It is understood the changes will be set out in a written ministerial statement today, agreed during passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, that will come into force with immediate effect.

A government source said: “We are very clear that onshore wind developments should have the consent of, and benefit, local communities.

“However, we want to see the sector thrive and believe that this is an important step forward.”

Sir Alok said MPs who have signed his amendment to the Energy Bill want to see a “much more permissive planning regime” on onshore wind.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to see the lifting of the current planning restriction, which means that a single objection to an onshore wind development can block it.

“And of course, allied with this, we want to ensure that local communities who are willing to take onshore wind developments will receive direct community benefits.”

Storm Betty Met Office weather warnings in place as wind and rain batters much of UK | UK News

Very strong winds and heavy rain are expected across the UK, as Storm Betty’s arrival causes multiple weather warnings for the start of the weekend.

The storm – which arrived in the UK on Friday – is the second named storm this month, following Storm Antoni.

The warnings follow a wet and windy night, particularly around the Irish Sea, with overnight gusts of 66 miles per hour (mph) recorded in Capel Curig, Gwynedd, in Wales.

A warning for strong winds remains in force until around noon on Saturday for western parts of England and Wales as well as the eastern area of Northern Ireland.

The Met Office says there is a risk of injuries and danger to life from large waves and beach material being thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and properties.

Gusts of wind may also cause damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs.

There is also potential for power cuts and mobile phone coverage could be affected.

Those making journeys are being advised to take care, with spray and flooding on roads adding to travel time, while those on public transport could be hit by cancellations and delays.

Flooding of homes and businesses could also be possible in some areas.

A weather warning for rain is also in place for Central Scotland, Tayside and Fife, Grampian, southwest Scotland, Lothian Borders and Strathclyde.

The highest rainfall totals are expected over east-facing high ground in the Angus Hills and the Grampian Mountains where between 40-60mm could accumulate.

Strong and gusty southeasterly winds will accompany the rain, with gusts perhaps as high as 40mph around some exposed coasts and hills in the east.

Read more:
UK weather: The latest Sky News forecast

Warnings are in force until midday on Saturday.

Betty is the second storm named in August.

She marks the second time since storm naming was introduced in 2015 that two storms have been named in August, following Ellen and Francis in August 2020.

Nearly half of UK’s offshore wind capacity owned by state-owned foreign entities, analysis shows | Climate News

Nearly half of all the UK’s offshore wind capacity is owned by state-owned or majority state-owned foreign entities, according to new analysis exclusively shared with Sky News.

Denmark’s Orstead, which is majority owned by the Danish government, and Norway’s Equinor come top of the list of public entities with the largest stake in UK offshore wind power, at 20% and 9% respectively.

They are followed by state-owned organisations in Sweden, Italy, China and France, according to analysis by the Common Wealth think tank and provided exclusively to Sky News.

Common Wealth’s assessment of publicly available data from the Crown Estate, which owns and leases much of the seabed around this country, found that the UK is twelfth on the list, behind United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Germany, Japan and Malaysia.

In large part this is because the UK government only owns a small renewable energy company called Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, which is focused on research and innovation and holds a tiny percentage of capacity.

Director of Common Wealth Matthew Laurence said: “Public ownership of renewable power is already widespread in the North Sea – it just benefits other countries.

“It is time we correct that by creating a UK green energy generator: it would roll out clean power infrastructure faster, fairer, and more affordably than the status quo.”

Common Wealth’s report added that in 2021 alone, £2.5bn of energy bills paid by UK consumers went to foreign state-owned entities.

It also found that of the 58% of UK offshore wind capacity owned by private businesses, just a third are headquartered in the UK.

The largest private owners are Germany’s RWE, Scotland’s SSE, and Spain’s Iberdrola.

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The Trades Union Congress has also called for what it referred to as a “public energy champion” that would invest excess profits from the generation of electricity to cut bills and insulate homes.

Clean energy and climate change will be a key theme of this week’s Labour Party conference, although Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dropped plans to nationalise energy companies.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has spoken positively about wind and nuclear power but is resisting calls to expand a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies, has lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas in the UK, and is preparing to grant nearly 100 new licenses for drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

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