In March, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published a consultation on an ‘accelerated planning system’. However, our initial excitement at this prospect quickly diminished when we saw that the proposed system was only to focus on employment land.

Specifically, the accelerated system is proposed to “cover major commercial development which creates 1,000 sqm or more of new or additional employment floorspace… to include offices, storage and warehousing, retail, general industry, research and development, light industry and advanced manufacturing”. Nowhere in the consultation is there any mention of renewables.

In our consultation response, co-signed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, we urge government to use an accelerated planning service to prioritise renewable energy projects. Specifically, we:

  • Advocate for renewable energy applications to be the key priority of an accelerated planning system, affording them a similar level of prioritisation as the Critical National Priority designation observed at the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project level.
  • Raise the expected future increase in renewable and energy storage planning applications and the need to ensure the planning system has the capacity to process these in a timely manner.
  • Raise the potential unintended consequence on the pace of decision making for renewables if Local Planning Authorities are incentivised to prioritise major commercial applications.
  • Urge government to address the persistent resourcing challenges impacting Local Planning Authorities.
  • Raise concerns regarding the resourcing and prioritisation of statutory consultees.
  • Raise a concern about the potential future resourcing of the planning inspectorate if a new performance measure is introduced for local authorities. Instead, we suggest that efforts should be focused on helping to address local authority resourcing challenges.

Our response is available to read here and below.

At Regen we are continuing to develop our work on planning and community engagement. If you are a Regen member and would like to help shape our work on planning then please sign up for our first planning working group meeting on 23rd May.

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