The Energy NPS is a vital set of policy documents that provides the decision-making process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). The Energy NPS, therefore, guides large-scale energy developers across the UK on how to develop appropriate projects that should deliver the large-scale energy infrastructure needs of the future UK energy system.
As recognised in this consultation from BEIS, the current Energy NPS is severely out of date and not in line with the UK government’s net zero ambitions. The rationale behind this update to the NPS is therefore welcome.
However, there remains within the draft energy NPS the potential to consent a range of technologies that are not net zero compliant – and therefore it fails in its ambition to align planning policy with the UK’s climate ambitions. If the UK is to meet its ambition of a net zero energy system by 2035, no projects should be consented now that will continue to create unabated emissions beyond 2035. The Energy NPS should set requirements for all new energy projects to demonstrate that they are net zero compliant, or can be made to be net zero compliant by 2035 at the latest.
To ensure this, our response makes the following recommendations:
- The Energy NPS should only allow consent to be granted for energy infrastructure that is net zero compliant.
- “Urgency” and “presumption in favour of development” should only relate to net zero compliant projects.
- Carbon Capture Readiness requirements should apply to all scales of new gas fired projects.
- New gas pipelines should not be supported through the NPS
- A requirement for effective community engagement should be woven through the Energy NPS.
- The NSIP consenting process should be reviewed to streamline the process in line with devolved administration decisions.
- The government should commit to regular reviews and updates of the Energy NPS.
“The Climate Change Committee has urged the government to focus on strengthening the delivery of its climate ambitions and planning policy is a vital tool that can and should be deployed to that end. BEIS’ review of the National Policy Statements that guide decision-making for large-scale energy infrastructure development is therefore welcome, but we urge them to go much further to ensure these crucial frameworks keep us on course for a net zero power system by 2035.”
Hazel Williams, associate director, Regen
Read the full response here.