Revised NPPF published with implications for onshore wind

6 September 2023

Following months of speculation, yesterday, (5th September), in a statement released by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, immediate changes were confirmed to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Of note are changes associated with onshore wind.  Essentially, the government has lifted strict rules regarding new onshore wind projects (which were imposed in 2015 by David Cameron’s Government) by broadening the ways in which suitable sites can be found.   

Under the new approach, the planning tests for onshore wind will be revised to allow alternative ways of identifying locations for new wind farm developments, rather than solely local development plans.  It is evident that this could include local and neighbourhood development orders, or community right to build orders.  

In summary the revised NPPF alters paragraphs 155 and 158 which, as above, relate to renewable and low carbon energy, these are as follows (changes in bold):

NPPF para 155(a) now reads

“To help increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy and heat, plans should:

a) Provide a positive strategy for energy from these sources, that maximises the potential for suitable development, and their future re-powering and life extension, while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed appropriately (including cumulative landscape and visual impacts);”

NPPF 2023 adds Para 158 (c):

“When determining planning applications for renewable and low carbon development, local planning authorities should:

c) In the case of applications for the repowering and life-extension of existing renewable sites, give significant weight to the benefits of utilising an established site, and approve the proposal if its impacts are or can be made acceptable.”

Footnote 53a Wind energy development involving one or more turbines can also be permitted through Local Development Orders, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. In the case of Local Development Orders, it should be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been appropriately addressed and the proposal has community support.

NPPF 2023, Footnote 54:

Except for applications for the repowering and life-extension of existing wind turbines, a planning application for wind energy development involving one or more turbines should not be considered acceptable unless it is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in the development plan or a supplementary planning document; and, following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been appropriately addressed and the proposal has community support.

NPPF 2023, Para 221 has been altered to refer to read:

“222. For the purposes of the policy on renewable and low carbon energy and heat in plans in paragraph 155, these policies apply only to plans that have not reached Regulation 19 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (pre-submission) stage, or that reach this stage within three months, of the publication of this version. For Spatial Development Strategies, this applies to plans that have not reached consultation under section 335(2) of the Greater London Authority Act 1999, or are within three months of reaching this stage. For all other plans, the policy contained in the corresponding paragraph in the National Planning Policy Framework published in July 2021 will apply.

The government has said it would come forward this autumn with more details on how public support for wind farms will be assessed, and how communities that host wind farms could benefit from lower energy bills.

The 2023 NPPF can be accessed here.

A further update is expected towards the end of the year with regard to the delivery of housing.

Other News