Liz Truss and Boris Johnson join Tory wind farm rebellion

Wind farm
Wind farm

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are backing an attempt to overturn England's effective ban on onshore wind farms, a Conservative MP has said.

Former minister Simon Clarke said the ex-prime ministers were supporting his bid to relax restrictions through the Levelling Up Bill.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has scrapped a move by predecessor Ms Truss to relax the rules.

He has said he wants to prioritise building turbines offshore instead.

Mr Clarke has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill that would overturn a planning clampdown introduced by former PM David Cameron in 2015.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson has confirmed to the BBC he supports the amendment. Ms Truss has been approached for comment.

In a tweet, Mr Clarke - who was levelling up secretary under Ms Truss - said his amendment had found support "right across the Conservative Party".

The move would allow new turbines with local consent, and represented a "pro-growth, pro-green policy at a time when we need both," he added.

It is the latest rebellion faced by Mr Sunak over the Levelling-Up Bill's planning measures.

The bill's journey through Parliament has already been delayed by a Tory backbench rebellion over housing targets, with votes due next Monday postponed.

When he was prime minister, Mr Johnson published an energy strategy in May that ruled out "wholesale changes" to the planning system for onshore wind.

It said the government would consult a "limited number of supportive communities" about allowing new turbines in exchange for lower energy bills.

'Act of self-harm'

Earlier this month, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party would lift the ban if it wins power at the next general election, which is expected to take place in 2024.

Labour's proposed planning changes include removing a provision that allows a single person's objection to stop an application.

Sir Keir said not backing onshore wind was a "national act of self-harm, choking off our economic potential".

Asked about the ban earlier this month, Mr Sunak told MPs the government wanted to focus on offshore rather than onshore wind.

"It is right that we bring people with us as we transition to net zero," he said.

"The worst thing we can do is alienate communities if we want to actually deliver on our climate commitments."