People living near new onshore wind farms could be given free power, says Nadhim Zahawi

Boris Johnson is due to unveil his long-awaited energy plan this week, having vowed to invest in domestic and nuclear energy.

The Prime Minister has outlined his commitment to reduce the UK’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbons amid the Ukrainian invasion over recent weeks and is set to announce plans to expand domestic green energy such as wind, solar and tidal power.

Onshore windfarms are set to form a key part of the policy, as revealed by i earlier this month.

Easing planning controls of building new onshore windfarms would lead to cheaper electricity for consumers, at a time households are feeling the pinch due to soaring inflation, rising energy bills and the upcoming rise in national insurance contributions.

But the plans are said to have caused a split in Cabinet, due to past opposition from Tory activists and local campaigners that turbines are an eyesore.

On Sunday, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi insisted there “isn’t a row” about onshore wind and suggested energy bills for people living near farms could be slashed under the new reforms.

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Indicating his approval for more onshore wind farms, he hinted the Government will use incentives rather than compulsion as he stressed communities need to back the plans.

“I would say that if we are going to make sure that we carry the will of local people, whether it’s onshore wind or nuclear, we have to learn from how it’s done well in other countries,” Mr Zahawi told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

“The way you do that is to make sure the local community has a real say.

“But also we’ve seen great examples of other people where if they build a nuclear power station, within a certain radius of that power station they get free power.”

Nuclear power is also set to form a key part of the energy strategy – which Downing Streets insists will be published at the end of the month having been repeatedly delayed already.

It comes as Cabinet minister and COP26 President Alok Sharma urges countries to “honour their commitments and take rapid action” to tackle the climate crisis and meet net zero.

Writing for the IPPR Progressive Review journal Mr Sharma warned that “inaction also poses significant risks to security and long-term prosperity”, as he sought to keep the 1.5°C target from COP26 alive.

Influential backbench Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin also writes that if we are to deliver on net zero, then we must achieve the right balance between a liberalised energy market and state regulation.

His contribution serves as a timely reminder that despite Tory MPs piling pressure on the Government to water down energy pledges, there remains broad support across the party for delivering the net zero agenda.

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