Where does onshore wind stand in the election?

With most of the election manifestos now out, we thought you might be wondering what (or if) they tell us about the parties’ positions on onshore wind.

So we had a look, and we’ve put together this guide to give you the scoop.

While some of the parties’ policies are pretty clear, others need a bit of untangling (hello politics). To help you get to the bottom of things, we’ve come up with a couple of questions you can ask your candidates.

What are the parties saying about onshore wind?

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party says it does “not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England”. But it will “maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind, and support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland, where they will directly benefit local communities.”

All clear? Us neither.

While they’re explicitly opposed to large-scale onshore wind in England - which is in line with their 2015 commitment to ‘halt the spread of subsidised onshore wind farms’ - the wording in this new manifesto could leave the door open for larger scale development in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  

Interestingly, they do not explicitly rule out community-scale wind projects in England - which we recently made the case for when we responded to the government’s housing consultation.

Seeing as the manifesto re-commits a future Conservative government to maintaining 2050 climate targets and ensuring energy is provided at lowest cost - which realistically requires at least some onshore wind - there’s a lot left to be worked out here.

 What to ask

  • Do the Conservatives support community-led onshore wind development in England?
  • Will a Conservative government provide support for larger scale onshore wind development in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? 

Labour Party

Labour is “committed to renewable energy projects, including tidal lagoons”, to create jobs and help tackle climate change. They also state they will ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.  

However, their manifesto doesn’t specify which energy sources will be used to meet the 60% target - in fact, it doesn’t mention onshore wind or solar once.

 What to ask

  • How will onshore wind be part of meeting the 60% target?
  • How will the Labour Party reinstate political support to make this possible? 

Green Party

The Green Party will “end the effective ban on onshore wind”, and will introduce new support for onshore wind and solar. They also want to scale up investment in offshore wind and marine renewables.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats say they will generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030 (which sounds similar to Labour’s manifesto but is significantly less ambitious - Labour want to generate 60% of energy from renewables and low carbon sources by 2030). Along with the Green Party, they’re the only ones to explicitly commit to restoring government support for onshore wind and solar.

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru will “increase energy generation from renewables, including delivering tidal lagoons.” They want Wales to be self-sufficient in electricity from renewables, and a world-leader in tidal energy technology.

 However, beyond tidal, their manifesto doesn’t specify any particular source of renewable energy, including solar and onshore wind.

What to ask

  • Which particular renewables will Plaid Cymru expand, and will onshore wind be part of the picture? 

SNP

The SNP will work to unlock the “wealth of onshore and offshore renewable energy potential” in Scotland, in order to support jobs and economic growth. They say this potential “has been undermined by the UK government’s ideologically-driven cuts to support for renewables”, and commit to pressing the next government to include onshore wind in its industrial strategy. The SNP also states it will “champion the interests of island and mainland communities to ensure they benefit financially from renewable energy projects”.  

UKIP

While UKIP do not specifically mention onshore wind in their manifesto, they state they will “remove taxpayer-funded subsidies from unprofitable wind and solar schemes”. They will also “repeal the 2008 Climate Change Act and support a diverse energy market”, based on fossil fuels, solar and hydro - “as well as other renewables when they can be delivered at competitive prices”.