Incoming British Liberals Immediately Lift Ban on Windfarms

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file

After a long run of dominance in British politics, the Conservative Party was swept out of power last week by the liberal Labour Party. The Tories weren't really taken by surprise because there had been plenty of unrest in the country (as with most of the rest of the world) and they had been sliding in the polls. The liberals wasted no time before starting to "fix" things that the conservatives had put in place. One of the first policies to go was a ban on onshore wind turbines. Except it really wasn't a ban on wind turbines. That's just how the Labour Party wants to portray it because they're promising to save the planet or whatever. The end result will be the same, however. Construction on new wind turbines should be kicking off as soon as all of the appropriate forms have been submitted.  (The Guardian)

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The effective ban on onshore windfarms has been dropped by the newly elected Labour government, in news that has delighted environmental and energy experts.

The ban was caused by two footnotes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the rules which govern the building of homes and infrastructure.

These footnotes only applied to onshore wind, no other type of infrastructure, and required such strong proof that there was no opposition from the local community they made building turbines impossible, given there is nearly always some local resistance to any building proposal.

Let's first look at how this supposed "ban" came into effect, since that seems to be at the crux of the debate. The Tories never banned wind power in any location, either on land or in the water. There was a change made to the National Planning Policy Framework that required proof that there was no local opposition to new construction projects before construction could begin. That covered new wind turbines. And since you can always find someone opposed to new construction projects near their property, it made getting a permit virtually impossible.

As I've long maintained, I'm not particularly opposed to wind energy as long as the turbines aren't put where they will be chopping up endangered birds or the offshore construction projects are driving endangered whales to extinction. We can use all of the energy on the grid that we can manage, no matter where it comes from. I only get annoyed when people act like wind and solar are somehow going to "save the planet" and use it as an excuse to ban reliable energy sources, primarily fossil fuels. It's a fool's errand, and these people are driving us toward rolling blackouts and a dead energy grid. 

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The Brits are at least being a bit more even-handed than their American counterparts when it comes to some (not all) other forms of energy. The Great British Nuclear body is currently working with the government to build eight new nuclear plants in the coming years. The only holdout at this point is Scotland, where they are working to block those efforts and keep an effective ban on new nuclear power stations in place. The rest of Britain is falling short in other areas, though. The government plans to begin banning natural gas installations in new housing projects beginning next year. With the Tories out of power, those plans will likely sail forward. 

From a broader perspective, it's interesting to note all of the changes taking place in Western nations this year as more elections unfold. There isn't some sort of international shift to the left or to the right being observed. In Great Britain, the liberals knocked out the conservatives. But during the same week in France, the furthest right-wing party came within a few seats of taking out the liberal alliance. On the other side of the pond, it looks like Justin Trudeau's liberal alliance is on the verge of being unseated by the Canadian conservative alliance. It's as if the world is in an uproar and people are simply in the mood to kick out the current holders of power and try someone else just to see if the situation improves. Let's cross our fingers and hope that this pattern holds true in the United States as well. Lord only knows we could all use a break.

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Duane Patterson 10:00 PM | July 11, 2024
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