Officials talk to MPs about onshore wind farms amid growing Tory rebellion to lift ban – schools minister Nick Gibb confirms | Political news

Officials are in talks with MPs over onshore wind farms amid a growing Tory rebellion to lift the ban, a minister has confirmed.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb told Sky News that while ‘the focus is still on offshore wind’ ministers ‘continue to speak to Members of Parliament’ about their views on whether if yes or no new onshore wind projects should be allowed.

Mr Gibb denied that the government’s softening of the stance was a reversal, calling it “parliamentary democracy” instead.

“It’s the normal process for getting legislation through parliament. You listen to MPs, you talk to MPs while you pass measures,” he said.

“The focus is still on offshore wind as a source of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

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During the summer leadership race, Rishi Sunak pledged not to build new wind farms and argued that a massive expansion of offshore wind would be more efficient.

The Telegraph has reported that the PM is set to back down on onshore wind farms, after 35 Tories – including former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – called for the ban to be lifted.

The rebel group signed an amendment tabled to the Leveling Bill by former Housing Secretary Simon Clarke that would allow new onshore wind projects in England.

Labor is also expected to support the amendment.

But the newspaper also reports that two dozen Tory MPs have written to the Prime Minister urging him to stand firm on the onshore wind ban or risk Britain’s food security.

“A change in policy would undoubtedly result in permanently impacted high-quality agricultural land at a time when we are acutely aware of the importance of food security,” their letter reads.

The group of signatories includes backbench MP Sir John Hayes and former cabinet ministers David Davis and David Jones, according to the original report.

Asked about the government’s position on Monday, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “We’re going to have a conversation with people who are passionate about our environment and making sure we have the right wind power in the right places.

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“I know those conversations are going on right now.

“We all know clearly that renewable energy from wind power is an important part of our drive to get to net zero. But we also need to consider community consent.

“Balancing democracy with the need for development is always the best way.”

Last week, Business Secretary Grant Shapps said there would be more onshore wind projects “where communities support them”, which would mean an end to an effective blockage of such projects since 2016, when David Cameron excluded them from government green energy subsidies.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Shapps denied the Government was backing down over fears of losing a vote on the Clarke Amendment.

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