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Queen's Speech: Changes to onshore wind planning system proposed

Whitehall would lose the power to stop construction of large onshore wind farms under legislation outlined in the Queen’s Speech last week.

Bills outlined at the traditional opening of Parliament included the Energy Bill, which will contain a clause transferring planning powers for wind power schemes greater than 50MW to local planning bodies.

The Queen’s Speech set out the legislation the newly-elected Conservative government intends to take through Parliament over the next year.

A background note circulated by the government said the Energy Bill proposes “that in future the primary decision maker for onshore wind consents in England and Wales will be the local planning authority”.

UK wind farm

Onshore wind farms: Planning powers to be devolved

The legislative programme also includes the High Speed 2 (London to West Midlands) Bill to allow construction of the first leg of the £43bn rapid rail link, and the Cities and Local GovernmentDevolution Bill which will allow more spending powers to be handed to regional mayors.

The Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill will require ministers to report annually on progress towards meeting a target of 3M new apprenticeships this Parliament.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association welcomed the legislation programme.

“Construction companies are primed to deliver world-class infrastructure for the UK,” said Ceca chief executive Alasdair Reisner.

“We welcome that in the Queen’s Speech, the government has recognised the importance to the market of maintaining long term certainty through renewed commitments to HS2 and the development of the northern powerhouse.”

“We also welcome the focus on job creation and apprenticeships. A concerted effort is needed to address the skills gap, with the construction industry predicted to require 45,000 new recruits a year.”

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