Proposals to reduce planning delays

Draft policy statements aimed at improving the UK’s energy mix have outlined ten potential sites for nuclear power stations and made recommendations to reduce planning delays for larger energy projects.

Energy and Climate secretary, Ed Miliband, today unveiled the draft National Policy Statements (NPSs) in Parliament whilst setting out a new framework for a quicker transition to a clean coal and a low carbon economy.

Miliband said: ‘Change is needed for energy security. In a world where our North Sea reserves are declining, a more diverse low carbon energy mix is a more secure energy mix, less vulnerable to fluctuations in the availability of any one fuel.’

He added: ‘The current planning system is a barrier to this shift. It serves neither the interests of energy security, the interests of the low carbon transition, nor the interests of people living in areas where infrastructure may be built, for the planning process to take years to come to a decision.

‘That is why we are undertaking fundamental reform of the planning system which will result in a more efficient, transparent and accessible process. And our new policy framework for clean coal will drive the development of CCS which will be essential for reducing the impact of coal-fired power stations on the environment.’

Under the plans outlined in the NPSs, decisions on proposals bigger than 50 megawatts and 100 megawatts for offshore wind, will be reduced from two years, to one year.

The documents also list Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa as ten potential nuclear build sites. According to Miliband, one third of the future generating capacity must be consented to and build over the next 15 years to meet present climate change goals.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has welcomed the NPSs stating that they are a ‘key step’ forward to decarbonise the economy.

Chief executive, Keith Parker, said: ‘This is a key step forward in the drive to de-carbonise our economy. A streamlined planning process will help the development of an array of low-carbon technologies – including nuclear – which in turn can do so much to combat climate change.

‘Too often in the past, cumbersome and inefficient planning processes have delayed developments which the UK so desperately needs. The NPS on nuclear will ensure that major infrastructure projects can progress effectively, without any detriment to local planning inquiries.’

Alongside the documents, the government has published a Framework for the Development of Clean Coal which states that all new coal plant will have to show that they will demonstrate the full CCS chain (capture, transport and storage) on at least 300MW net of their total output.

The Department for Environment and Climate Change (DECC) said that it expects demonstration plants to retrofit CCS to their full capacity by 2025.

The government also confirmed today is that it has received bids from E.ON and Scottish Power to begin to the next stage of the current CCS demonstration competition.