Backbenchers force Sunak’s hand following broken promise to relax rules by last April

Rishi Sunak is set to relax planning rules in England to make it easier to build onshore wind farms.

An effective ban in place since 2015 means an objection from just one person could block an onshore wind scheme.

Onshore wind England shutterstock

Current rules mean an onshore wind scheme can be blocked by just one objection

Last year the government promised to ease the rules by the end of April under pressure from Conservative MPs, including former COP26 president Alok Sharma, to amend the Energy Bill.

The MPs have now intervened again to force the government to act on the pledge.

Sharma’s amendment would ensure local communities willing to host wind turbines would be given direct benefits and prevent decisions made on schemes being overturned on appeal.

MPs are due to consider the government bill in the House of Commons this afternoon.

A government source told the BBC a minister would make a statement outlining “changes to planning policy with regard to onshore wind”.

Sharma, a former secretary of state for business and energy who now sits on the back benches, described the current rules as outdated.

He told the BBC: “The current situation we have is that just one objection can prevent a wind farm from being built.

“I mean, clearly, that is not a community veto. And frankly, I don’t think it’s a sensible way for a planning system to operate.”

Research by the University of the West of England found the 2015 rule, introduced by David Cameron, had led to a 97% decrease in the number of onshore wind turbines granted planning permission between 2016 and 2021 compared to the period 2009-2014.