PM pushes idea of cutting energy bills for people living near onshore wind farms

Boris Johnson has pushed the idea of slashing the energy bills of households living near new wind farms.

The issue of onshore wind has reportedly caused a rift around the Cabinet table as ministers look to find ways of weaning Britain off fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK Government’s energy security strategy published last month made the case for more offshore wind but said planning regulations for onshore developments would remain largely the same.

But it raised the prospect of lowering energy bills or providing other benefits for a “limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure”.

Speaking to the BBC during his visit to Sweden, Mr Johnson said offshore wind remained his “preference” for increasing the UK’s renewable energy supply but reignited the idea of those living close to new land turbines being offered cheaper energy in compensation.

“I’m not massively keen on onshore wind farms for all sorts of reasons,” he told the BBC.

“But if local people want them and if you could have a system whereby the onshore wind was being used to abate the energy prices of those who were in the immediate vicinity of the onshore wind farms, as we suggested the other day in the British energy security strategy, that might be something that local people wanted to buy into.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about energy costs while visiting Sweden
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about energy costs while visiting Sweden (Frank Augstein/PA)

The comments come against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, with soaring energy bills and a rise in inflation putting pressure on household budgets.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi used an interview in March to point to how other countries had offered discounts to those living within a “certain radius” of a nuclear power station.

He suggested to Sky News at the time that the same could be done when it came to onshore wind developments in the UK.

The Tories have steered away from pushing for more onshore turbine power amid fears over a potential backlash from communities concerned that they blight the landscape.

The Prime Minister has pushed for the UK to instead look to become the “Saudi Arabia of wind” and to press on with building coastal farms.

PA infographic showing UK offshore wind farms.
(PA Graphics)

Addressing the need for more renewable energy while in Sweden, Mr Johnson said: “What we want to prioritise is that offshore opportunity.

“We can go up to 50 gigawatts of offshore wind.

“The question is, how fast can you do it? Can you get the planning permission? How long does the habitats regulations have to delay us?

“You know, there are huge stretches of unharvested sea, as the poet once put it, that could be forested with beautiful wind farms generating clean green energy for our country.”