UK must prioritise onshore wind over nuclear in net zero race

Nuclear Free Local Authorities and the environmental group Possible have issued an open letter urging policy makers to bring forward new onshore wind projects and abandon  ‘expensive’, ‘slow’ and ‘risky’ nuclear plans. 

To mark Global Wind Day – 15th June 2022 – two UK organisations have joined forces to issue a plea for government to rethink priorities in the scramble for greater energy security and the transition to net zero. 

white and gray wind mill

Nuclear Free Local Authorities has teamed up with the environmental group Possible, which aims to create a level playing field for onshore wind. Both bodies claim this option offers the cheapest, cleanest, and most immediate form of energy Britain could bring online, and can have a significant positive impact on a population currently struggling with spiralling household bills.

‘Given that onshore wind is a proven, relatively cheap, green and sustainable power source, and, contrary to the myths peddled by certain sections of our national press, very popular with all sections of the public, it is the contention of the NFLA that the government should be doing much more to bring forward many more onshore wind developments by relaxing the onerous planning regulations, by encouraging communities to invest in such developments,’ said NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Cllr David Blackburn. ‘There really is no excuse for the government to ‘unlock’ onshore wind to help achieve net zero.’

The open letter confirms both NFLA and Possible consider the nuclear power option as ‘too expensive, too slow… always accompanied by operational risks, can be a target for hostile military forces or terrorists, is reliant on foreign uranium, and generates a deadly legacy of toxic radioactive waste’. The latter is a particularly relevant given current plans to conduct a month-long series of seismic tests to assess the feasibility of constructing an undersea storage facility for nuclear waste off the coast of Cumbria. You can read Environment Journal‘s in-depth investigative report on the short and long term impact here

The letter makes a number of recommendations: 

  • Allow sufficient capacity each year in Contracts for Difference auctions to ensure the UK has enough onshore wind and solar to meet our climate targets – and create the increase in renewable energy supply that will be needed to power the decarbonisation of heat and transport.
  • Remove the planning blocks on new onshore wind projects in England, and replace them with a proportionate system which prioritises local involvement and local benefit, and does not allow lone dissenting voices to veto projects which have wide community support.
  • Ensure a route to market for community energy projects, such as a community Contracts for Difference pot, a viable Smart Export Guarantee tariff, and give government backing to the Local Electricity Bill
  • Ensure Ofgem has a zero-carbon mandate, and the national grid enables power feed in by renewable energy projects across the UK.


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