Article Republished By Javier Troconis
Environmental groups condemned business secretary Grant Shapps for claiming wind turbines are “so big” they cannot be built on land.
The minister said: “They are so big, the turbines wouldn’t be able to be carried by roads. They have to be put offshore. These single turbines are seven football pitches in scope as they turn. They’re not buildable onshore.”
Friends of the Earth said the cabinet minister’s claim was “nonsense”, while Greenpeace said Mr Shapps’ comments were “nonsensical”.
Mike Childs, policy chief at Friends of the Earth, pointed out that onshore wind farms were currently being constructed onshore Scotland. He said the biggest barrier “isn’t the size of the turbines – it’s government policy”.
Greenpeace UK’s policy director Doug Parr said: “Grant Shapps claims that turbines can’t be carried by roads, but hasn’t seemed to notice how this already happens all over the world.”
The environmentalist added: “It may seem very obvious, but the point about onshore wind is that it is built onshore. On land. There is a thriving onshore wind market in many places. He enjoys a football analogy but can’t seem to notice his own goal.”
The Sunak government faces a growing revolt over the onshore wind ban from dozens of Conservative MPs – including his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
Around 30 Tory MPs have backed a pro-onshore wind amendment to Michael Gove’s Levelling Up Bill tabled by the former levelling-up minister Simon Clarke.
It comes very close to eroding Mr Sunak’s working majority of 69 votes if other opposition parties back the amendment.
Despite his criticism of onshore wind turbines, Mr Shapps appeared to suggest the government could listen to rebel MPs and U-turn on the policy.
Earlier on Tuesday he said there would be more onshore wind projects “where communities are in favour of it”, hinting at a compromise ahead.
He told Sky News: “You need local consent if you’re going to have wind power onshore, because it can be quite a big imposition on the local environment.”
In a blistering attack in the Commons, Labour’s Ed Miliband urged Mr Shapps to clarify his position on onshore wind farms “once and for all”.
The shadow climate secretary claimed the only reason the issue is being debated is not because “the public don’t support it”, but because “dinosaurs on the benches opposite oppose clean energy”.
He went on: “The problem is that [Mr Shapps] who prides himself on being a truly modern man is part of a fossilised tendency.”
Mr Shapps said turbines were “not buildable onshore”, adding: “The cheapest way to build them offshore, to produce energy offshore.”
On local consent, the business secretary said: “The energy white paper, the net-zero strategy, they have all said exactly the same thing, as we’ve been saying this week, onshore can happen where it has local consent.”
Meanwhile, Tory MP John Hayes says he had 19 colleagues backing his amendment seeking to ban onshore wind ban in England.
“The political response to this if the government gets it wrong will be horrendous for Conservative MPs and candidates because it will be immensely unpopular,” he told The Times.