The chairman of the Cop26 climate summit, Alok Sharma, has become the latest MP from the Conservative party to support lifting the ban on new onshore wind farms.
Sharma joined his former boss Boris Johnson, who nominated him for a peerage, in backing an amendment to government legislation to scrap the onshore wind moratorium.
It means the amendment to the Leveling Up Bill, led by former Leveling Secretary Simon Clarke, now has the backing of 22 Tory MPs.
Johnson and his successor Liz Truss signed the proposal to lift the ban. Clarke’s amendment would require the government to change its policy within six months to allow new wind farm projects.
It comes as Michael Gove reportedly told allies he also supports ending the ban, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
The upgrade secretary was reportedly joined by business secretary Grant Shapps and climate change minister Graham Stuart in privately backing calls for the ban to be lifted, according to the newspaper.
Since 2014, planning rules have effectively banned any new onshore wind farms in England as part of tougher restrictions imposed by David Cameron’s government after pressure from Tory activists.
Sharma, a former commercial secretary, tweeted“Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy and will help boost UK energy security.
“Putin’s illegal and brutal war in Ukraine has reinforced the fact that climate and environmental security is totally linked to energy and national security.
“Faster deployment of renewables, including onshore wind, is needed to meet the UK’s 2035 target of 100% clean electricity.”
He added that he supports letting communities decide whether to allow new projects in their area, including residents benefiting from reduced energy bills to support new projects.
It’s the latest challenge for Rishi Sunak, who withdrew the leveling bill from a parliamentary vote on housing construction policy, over fears a Tory rebellion over a target to build 300,000 homes a year saw his first defeat in parliament. About fifty Conservative MPs had threatened to rebel. The bill is expected to be debated next month.
Johnson supports the amendment although he made no attempt to overturn the ban when he was prime minister. It was also signed by former ministers Nadine Dorries and Stephen Crabb.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer supports lifting the ban and has previously said keeping it in place was a “national act of self-harm, stifling our economic potential”.
Clarke, who served as chief treasury secretary under Johnson and upgrade secretary in Truss’ seven-week premiership, said: ‘This is truly an issue that unites opinion from all wings of the Conservative party. We should let local communities decide whether or not they want onshore wind, perhaps linked to reasonable incentives from energy companies, and not apply a blanket ban.
“Onshore wind can lower our constituents’ bills, strengthen our energy independence and protect our environment, and I’m delighted that so many colleagues are supporting this important amendment.”
On Friday, a government spokesman said: “We will consider all amendments and state our position in the usual way.
“The Prime Minister has been clear, however, that we want to support more renewables, to bring them online and the focus remains on building more offshore wind turbines to enhance our energy security. .”