Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The system is rigged against onshore wind ... and is about to be rigged in favour of fracking

There are competing narratives and campaigns over what 'alternative energy' is better:
Futures Forum: Fracking vs onshore wind: 'the system isn't fair' > campaign 'to lift the ban on onshore wind and hand decision-making power over local energy projects back to local people'

As pointed out in a comment on this blog entry:

But if the question had been would you rather live next to a wind farm, a fracking site or neither then ..... Not a valid question to give two unpopular alternatives and then claim the least unpopular is something people want.

Futures Forum: Would you rather live next to a wind farm or a fracking site?

Besides, is it really necessary to 'subsidise' one over the other:
Futures Forum: Onshore wind power “phenomenally competitive” on price

However, it is clear that the government prefers on over the other - as the campaign group 10:10 points out: 

The government’s newest policy could ban wind for years to come

Us Brits love wind turbines. No, really. The government just checked, and a whopping 74% of us said we support onshore wind in the UK. 
The news is less good for fracking. Just 13% of us support its use in Britain. So, thanks to the government, things seem fairly clear: we love wind, and we don’t like fracking.

Not so fast. Because over the last three years, the government’s had it the other way around. In England, they’ve been forcing fracking on local communities, while making new wind turbines almost impossible to build. In 2015 they quietly issued a new piece of planning guidance for onshore wind that’s put insurmountable barriers in front of new projects - and led to a massive 94% reduction in applications for new turbines. What’s more, they’ve told us they’re doing this because the public doesn’t like onshore wind.

Confused? Us too. And it’s about to get worse.

The government has just announced new policy that tells English councils to help make fracking happen, while formally cementing the block on onshore wind into our planning system. This policy is part of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). And while that might sound like the most boring thing you’ve ever decided not to read, it could prevent us from generating more clean, cheap wind power for years to come.

That’s the bad news - but there’s some good news too. Before this policy gets approved, the government has to ask the public what we think of it. Which means we’ve got an opportunity to unlock onshore wind.

That’s why we’re delivering a petition to the government calling on them to make the rules fair.

Will you join us?

The government’s newest policy could ban wind for years to come — 10:10
10:10 | The system is rigged against onshore wind: sign our petition

Here are some very interesting pieces on the debate over 'forcing councils to allow fracking':
Government seeks to strengthen planning case for onshore oil and gas – DRILL OR DROP?
NPPF skews planning in favour of fracking, says Greenpeace | Development + Infrastructure

Meanwhile, the government is asking for submissions: 

Planning guidance for fracking inquiry launched

30 January 2018

The Communities and Local Government Committee examines whether guidance for local authorities taking planning decisions on fracking applications needs to be updated or improved.

Shale gas extraction

The inquiry on the planning guidance for hydraulic fracturing or shale gas extraction will also focus on whether there needs to be a comprehensive document bringing all existing guidance together, for all those involved in the planning process.

The Committee will also consider whether applications for fracking should be determined by the national planning regime rather than at a local level.

It's important to be clear about planning process

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said:
"The debate over fracking has aroused strong views on both sides but with large reserves of shale gas prevalent across northern England, applications for its extraction are only likely to grow over the next few years.

It's important all parties, from applicants to local authorities, are clear about the planning process so we will be looking at whether the guidance is adequate or whether the Government could do more to bring all the relevant directions together. 

The guidance needs to be as clear and straightforward as possible so those involved in the decision-making process can judge whether any bids for fracking are in the interests of the local community and the country as a whole."

Send a written submission

The Committee is inviting written submissions on the following questions:
  • Is there the need to update and improve the guidance available?
  • Is there the need for a comprehensive document incorporating existing and updated guidance?
  • What is the status – in planning terms – of the extant Government guidance?
  • Should applications for fracking be dealt with as national infrastructure under the 2008 Planning Act?

Further background

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) provides overall guidance for planning applications but does not contain detailed guidance on fracking. The Government has pledged to publish draft revisions 'early in 2018'.

Current guidance is contained in multiple documents while the MHCLG's relevant minerals planning guidance has not been updated (with the exception of one paragraph) since March 2014.

Planning guidance for fracking inquiry launched - News from Parliament - UK Parliament

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