Labour would need to build wind farm bigger than London to meet energy promise, Tories claim

Wind farm
Wind farm

Labour would need to build wind farms on land the size of Greater London to meet its energy promise, the Tories have claimed.

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to double the amount of onshore wind in England to help deliver clean power by 2030.

But the Conservatives have said that more than 1,700 sq kilometres of land would be required to double the country’s capacity.

This would mean that the area covered by additional onshore wind farms would be larger than the size of the capital.

Labour has said that it plans to ease planning restrictions on onshore wind farms “within weeks” if it wins the general election.

This includes removing the requirement for community concerns to be “appropriately addressed”, which currently means that objections can be used to block onshore wind projects.

Ed Miliband, the shadow energy secretary, plans to use a “written statement” to remove the obligation in the national planning policy framework which has been in place since 2015.

The Tories have pledged to retain this stipulation if elected to government, specifically citing in the manifesto that “democratic consent for onshore wind” would be ensured under their plans.

Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, said: “The Conservatives have taken a sensible approach to onshore wind which is to balance our energy transition with protecting the countryside and respecting community views.

“Labour in contrast has already said they will bulldoze over the green belt showing complete disregard for nature.”

The UK’s current onshore wind capacity is 15.37GW, and to double it would require around 5,123 turbines, according to Tory estimates.

It would also require 1,708 sq kilometres of land, which is larger than the 1,572 sq kilometres of Greater London.

Mr Miliband told The Telegraph last week: “The onshore wind ban was a deeply unfair measure… and we want to lift it. At the moment, it’s easier to build an incinerator than it is to build an onshore wind development.”

In Wales, the Labour government has created zones which are “pre-assessed areas for wind energy”, a system which Mr Miliband did not rule out implementing in England.

But he insisted there would be a “proper fair community consent process” and that Labour would “want to work with local authorities”.

Labour also plans to triple the country’s solar power and quadruple offshore wind by the end of the decade.

With this it has promised not to issue new oil and gas licences in the North Sea and to ban fracking “for good”.

Onshore and offshore wind together supplied a record of almost 30 per cent of Britain’s electricity last year.