My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of Peers for the Planet and thank colleagues both there and throughout the House who have supported the Bill, as well as many outside organisations.
This Third Reading comes at a time when the country is deep in an energy security crisis. We urgently need to shift away from reliance on fossil fuels and the volatility of the international gas markets. The Prime Minister wrote this week that
“green energy of all kinds”
will be at the heart of the imminent energy security strategy.
Onshore wind offers cheap, clean, domestically produced energy, but at the moment planning restrictions impose an effective moratorium on its development and the repowering of existing installations. My Bill would end that moratorium and put planning applications on the same basis as others. I hope the Minister will indicate in his response that the Government recognise the need to change current planning policies to enable onshore wind to play a full part in our energy mix and our response to the current crisis. I beg to move.
My Lords, the issues raised in the Bill—energy and planning—were always important. With recent events they have become even more so and I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on bringing the Bill to your Lordships’ House. She is absolutely right: onshore wind delivers cheap, clean, domestically produced electricity. I am sure that in the coming months and years we will come back to the issues raised in this Bill, whether in the Subsidy Control Bill or in many of the other Bills we will discuss. On these Benches we have always been happy to support this.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness on her Bill, which I fully support. I have long opposed subsidies for wind, but I am not opposed to wind. As far as onshore wind is concerned, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and I find windmills quite attractive—although this was not a view universally shared by my constituents.
In the current circumstances we must support the cheapest, most reliable mix of energy we can produce. With high gas prices, clearly wind is more economical. We should support it and not have artificial barriers to its development. But however much wind power we develop, we will need gas to back it up when the wind is not blowing. As well as liberalising the rules on building wind farms on land, I hope we shall liberalise the rules on exploiting gas to go with it.
My Lords, I join in the thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for this Bill to revise national planning guidance on onshore wind. While the Government were not convinced that the Bill is the right course of action, we agree with the importance of increasing onshore wind deployment in order to reach our net-zero targets. As my noble friend Lord Lilley implied, recent events have demonstrated how crucial it is that we build a strong, homegrown renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
However, that does not alter the Government’s position here. We welcome the Bill and the opportunity to debate this important subject, although we cannot support it. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on bringing the Bill to the House and enabling what has been an excellent debate. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions at Second Reading, which allowed for an insightful and important debate on the subject. I also thank my officials for their support during Second Reading, which enabled noble Lords to receive prompt and, I hope, comprehensive answers on matters of interest.
The Government are not convinced that this Bill is the right solution to bring forward more onshore wind deployment in England. We continue to keep English planning policy under careful review to ensure that decisions on onshore wind can be taken that are in keeping with our carbon budgets.
My Lords, I am grateful; I shall read the Minister’s comments very carefully. I think he said the Government were not convinced that this was the right way to bring forward more onshore wind. Of course, the moratorium was effectively imposed by a ministerial Statement. If the Government can find other ways, I will gladly cede my Bill in the cause. Beyond that, I was delighted to have a moment of unanimity with the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, almost to the end of what he said—but we must take what we can.
Bill passed and sent to the Commons.