Wind turbines

Energy news - April 2024

A roundup of the latest energy news over the first quarter of 2024, including navigating local government views on renewable energy, potential policy change for onshore wind, renewable heat developments and National Grid’s investment plans for the UK grid.

A roundup of the latest energy news over the first quarter of 2024, including navigating local government views on renewable energy, potential policy change for onshore wind, renewable heat developments and National Grid’s investment plans for the UK grid. Included in this months article:

  1. Navigating local government views on renewable energy development in the UK
  2. Potential for onshore wind policy change with 2024 election
  3. Policy updates impacting renewable heat developments
  4. National Grid’s ‘Beyond 2030’ Report looks to support renewable generation at scale
  5. New starters within the Carter Jonas team

Navigating local government views on renewable energy development in the UK 

Renewable energy development in the UK is on the rise, with increasing activity contracted in key regions across the country and a range of nationally significant solar infrastructure projects coming through the pipeline. National policy advocates for responsible renewable development to meet sustainability targets, boost economic activity, and enhance energy resilience. However, navigating the landscape of local government attitudes towards these developments presents both opportunities and challenges. 

Project locations are typically determined by factors such as the availability of flat farmland with reasonably accessible grid connectivity and willing landowners. Yet, local government attitudes vary significantly. While some councils welcome renewable development, citing local investment opportunities and green credentials, others reject it due to concerns over the loss of agricultural land, biodiversity degradation, impact on the rural landscape and cumulative amenity impacts. 

Our experience reveals that neighbouring councils can often hold opposing views, influenced by historical and cultural perspectives held by councillors and constituents alike. These perspectives are deeply tied to how communities identify themselves and envision their future, and there are no clear-cut rights or wrongs in this discourse. Importantly, once a promoter loses the goodwill of the community, it can be challenging to regain, and passionate, long held views need to be respected and understood.
Early action is paramount in setting up a project for success

Promoters must engage with established procedures, such as the Development Consent Order process, to ensure that local authorities' views are carefully considered alongside national objectives and environmental concerns. Frontloading engagement in a project can be instrumental in uncovering local government views early on, allowing for the development of an approval strategy that respects local opinions and council positions and brings these key stakeholders along.    

Early action is paramount in setting up a project for success. By proactively engaging with local communities and councils, promoters can address concerns, build trust, and align their projects with local interests and priorities. It is essential to understand the unique dynamics of each area and tailor engagement strategies accordingly. 

For those embarking on renewable energy projects or considering future ventures, reaching out for further discussion on early action strategies can be beneficial. By leveraging our expertise and experience, we can help our clients navigate the complexities of local government attitudes and position projects for success in both receptive and challenging environments. 

For more information please contact:
David Walker (Partner) 
Nicholas Andrews (Associate Partner)


Potential for onshore wind policy change with 2024 election

The UK has the highest wind energy potential in Europe and one of the best locations in the world for generating power from wind. In terms of offshore wind, it currently has more installed capacity than any other country, powering over 7.5 million homes nationwide. This is likely to increase further, with ambitious targets set by the British Energy Security Strategy to achieve up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, up from 13.9GW today.

Onshore wind energy, however, has been subject to a ‘de facto’ ban since 2015, when the Government introduced a footnote into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) resulting in the following requirements:

  • Wind developments must be in a designated zone defined by Local Authorities (who were under no obligation to fulfil this).

  • Must have backing of the local community (just a single person opposing is enough to prevent a scheme).

This resulted in a 97% decrease in onshore wind turbines receiving planning consent between 2016 and 2021, compared to 2009-2014. The NPPF was updated in in September 2023 with a view to ending this ‘de facto’ ban, although in practice it has not had an effect.
New onshore wind installations however, could become more viable in coming years, with the potential for a change in government at the coming election. Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband recently committed to immediately remove the ban if Labour come to power, as part of targets to decarbonise the power systems by 2030.

There has also been a change in planning policy for existing wind turbines from September 2023, where applicants can now seek to replace them with new, more powerful turbines (known as ‘repowering’) without the same planning restrictions as a new application.

Carter Jonas has extensive expertise in site finding, feasibility, project management and planning for onshore wind turbines, whether for new sites or repowering.

If you are interested in learning more about onshore wind on your property, please contact:

Jamie Baxter (Associate Partner)

Policy updates impacting renewable heat developments 

Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM) 

The CHMM is a government initiative to incentivise investment in heat pump supply chains. It will obligate heating appliance manufacturers to ensure that a proportion of their annual sales come from heat pumps, resulting in a £3,000 fine for any missed targets. Although UK Heat Pump sales have increased in line with the 4% mandated by the scheme, some boiler manufacturers have been hiking their prices in anticipation of not being able to meet the obligations of the CHMM, therefore offsetting potential fines to consumers.  

With that in mind, the government is now proposing to launch the scheme in April 2025 instead of April 2024 to allow businesses more time to prepare and for the market to develop. To aid in this market development, BUS (Boiler Upgrade Scheme) was introduced (in April 2022) and the latest figures for January 2024 saw a 39% year-on-year increase in applications.  

Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) and Biomass Boiler Inclusion 

The BUS provides grants to encourage property owners into replacing existing fossil fuel heating with more efficient, low carbon heating systems. On 31st August 2023, the government began a consultation with the purpose to evaluate several criteria that was required to access the grant. This month (14th March) they published the outcome and their response to this consultation. To summarise: 

  • Applicants will still need an EPC that has been generated in the last 10 years. 

  • The requirement to have no outstanding recommendations for loft and cavity wall insulations on the EPC have been removed. 

  • There will be no grant variation for differentiating properties, however, the government may be able to change this in the future.  

  • Biomass boilers with integrated cooking function are now eligible for support. 

  • The application will not be eligible for support if the system has been commissioned 120 days prior to the application being submitted.  

  • Capacity limit for individual systems remains at 45kW but for shared ground loops, has been increased to 300kW.  

Timing for these changes will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as providing guidance on how the changes will impact applications.  

Improving Boiler Standards and Efficiency 

The government has released a consultation on improving boiler standards and efficiency. This consultation seeks views on a range of topics, including: 

  • Proposals to improve boiler and heating system efficiency through improvements to minimum standards. 

  • Proposals to mandate that from 2026 all newly installed gas boilers are ‘hydrogen-ready’. 

  • The potential role of gas boiler-electric heat pump hybrids in heat decarbonisation in the 2020s and 2030s.

These proposals aim to reduce domestic gas consumption, thereby lowering consumer bills and carbon emissions, improving our energy security, and preparing for the transition to low-carbon heating.

For more information please contact:
Jamie Baxter (Associate Partner)

National Grid’s ‘Beyond 2030’ Report looks to support renewable generation at scale

In March this year the National Grid ESO released the Beyond 2030 report. This new report aims to facilitate the connection of an additional 21GW of offshore wind, on top of the 23GW proposed in 2022. This would mean there would be a total of 86GW of offshore wind in 2035, which would make Britain the global leader. 

National Grid Electricity System Ltd 2024, all rights reserved

The National Grid ESO acknowledges that the grid requires significant upgrades to meet the requirements of the rapidly growing electricity needs, which is expected to rise by up to 65% by 2035. Over the last few years, a considerable number of renewable energy technologies have been added to the grid which has resulted in the grid reaching capacity and requiring reinforcement. At Carter Jonas we have witnessed this first hand. We are aware of projects that are been offered connection dates deep into the 2030s and other projects cancelled due to a lack of capacity on the grid for certain regions.  

The report proposes an investment of £58 billion into the electricity grid by 2035. According to the ESO the introduction of this proposed infrastructure could add up to £15 billion to the UK’s economy and could introduce over 20,000 jobs annually. 

As illustrated in the figure produced by the ESO showing the planned network infrastructure to be delivered beyond 2030, the scale of these infrastructure developments are vast. Below is a summary of some of the key works for different regions within the UK. 

  • North West – To reconfigure and increase capacity of the network between Stalybridge and Thorpe Marsh. 

  • North East – To upgrade the existing circuits between Lackenby and Thornton to allow for more capacity. 

  • Yorkshire and the Humber – Replace the conductors on existing circuit between Norton and Osbaldwick with higher capacity conductors to provide additional network capacity.  

  • East Midlands - To replace the conductors on the existing circuits between Brinsworth and Thorpe Marshe, Brinsworth and Chesterfield, and Chesterfield and Ratcliffe with higher capacity conductors, to increase network capacity. 

  • Wales – New circuit in North Wales with a higher capacity than previously recommended. 

  • Central and Southern Scotland – WCN2 – A new circuit between south west Scotland and North West England. 

  • East of England – New transmission capacity between South Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and North West Norfolk boundary to Hertfordshire. 

  • South East – New circuit within South East England to increase local capacity. 

This planned upgrade is much needed, particularly if we are to cater for the estimated 65% increase in electricity need and is a promising step towards net zero. Given the scale of this proposal we hope that the ESO can follow through on its plans, which would provide new capacity for the wider grid. 


New starters within the team 

Stuart Cambell is a Parter based in the London Chapel Place office. Stuart is the new Head of Energy Transactional Services 

Joel Dowson is an Energy Specialist based in the Leeds office, specialising in renewable energy technical advisory.