Cabinet Split Erupts Over Plans To Massively Expand The Number Of Onshore Windfarms

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said they were "an eyesore" and damaged the environment.
Europe's biggest onshore wind farm, Whitelee Windfarm on the outskirts of Glasgow.
Europe's biggest onshore wind farm, Whitelee Windfarm on the outskirts of Glasgow.
Danny Lawson via PA Wire/PA Images

Cabinet splits over the UK’s future energy strategy have erupted after Grant Shapps publicly criticised plans to increase the number of onshore windfarms.

The transport secretary described the developments as “eyesores” and said he favoured more offshore windfarms and nuclear power plants instead.

Boris Johnson is expected to publish the government’s long-awaited energy strategy on Thursday as he tries to end the need for Britain to import any oil and gas from Russia, as well as tackle soaring bills.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng - the minister in charge of the plans - favours relaxing planning rules to allow a massive expansion in onshore windfarms.

However, appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, Shapps made clear his strong opposition to the move.

He said: “I don’t favour a vast increase in onshore windfarms for pretty obvious reasons - they sit on the hills there and can create something of an eyesore for communities as well as problems of noise as well.

“So I think for reasons of environmental protection, the way to go with this is largely offshore.”

He added: “My thinking is what you really want to do is develop in other ways - nuclear, we will have offshore wind. I don’t think you want a huge expansion of onshore wind. There may be cases where it makes sense, but by and large we’ve established that offshore works very well and it provides a lot of our electricity already.”

The Sunday Telegraph today reported that Boris Johnson will announce plans to expand the government’s commitment to move forward with new large-scale nuclear power stations this decade.

It is thought the new ambition will be to support the construction of two by 2030.

Asked about the scale of the its nuclear ambitions, Kwarteng told the paper: “There is a realisation across government that we could do more on nuclear.

“With energy, you’re thinking maybe 30, even 40 years [ahead]. If we fast forward to 2050, there is a world where we have six or seven sites in the UK. That isn’t going to happen in the next two years, but it’s definitely something that we can aspire to.

“The prime minister said, in terms of the energy generation mix, we could see maybe a quarter of that being nuclear. I’d say 15 to 25 per cent. But obviously in the first three years you’re not going to suddenly have six new nuclear stations in three years. It’s physically impossible to do that.”


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