Infrastructure Planning Commission and National Policy Statements

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24 November 2009

Infrastructure Planning Commission and National Policy Statements

In a statement to Parliament on 10 November 2009 Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband released the first six National Policy Statements on Energy, which are designed to guide the decision making process of the Infrastructure Planning Commission established under the Planning Act 2008.

The Draft Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) applies across the board to all the technology-specific National Policy Statements. It contains as much of the policy guidance as DECC felt it could properly generalise, and re-states the Government's  Energy and Climate Change Strategy, stating the need for new energy infrastructure and setting out a series of Assessment Principles and Generic Impacts. These range from, for example, the required content of Environmental Statements and Habitats regulations assessments for large infrastructure projects, through general requirements for carbon Capture readiness and Carbon Capture and Storage, grid connections, Biodiversity, Coastal change factors and so on.

The Draft National Policy Statement for Fossil Fuel Electricity Generating Infrastructure (EN-2) contains an assessment and technology-specific information, for example with detailed requirements for consideration of water quality resources for cooling water, and provisions on combined heat and power, more detail on Carbon Capture Readiness, and Carbon Capture and Storage for Coal-fired Generating Stations.

The Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3) contains the technology-specific guidance for the IPC on Biomass and Waste Combustion, Offshore wind and Onshore Wind. Other forms of renewables such as wave and tidal power are not yet included. For each technology-specific issue there is a description of the issue, a statement of actors to be included in the Applicant's Assessment, factors to be taken into account for IPC decision making, and a description of mitigation measures proposed or required.

The Draft National Policy Statement for Gas Supply Infrastructure and Gas and Oil Pipelines (EN-4) covers Underground Natural Gas Storage, LNG Import Facilities, Gas reception Facilities and Gas and Oil Pipelines in a similar way.

The Draft National Policy Statement for Electricity Networks Infrastructure (EN-5) briefly covers technology-specific factors such as criteria for "good design" for energy infrastructure and Electric and Magnetic Fields.

The Draft National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6) is a much longer treatment of nuclear-specific impacts, (such as flood risk) with a separate list of issues marked 'flag for local consideration' in the planning process, such as emergency planning or demographics. There is then a case by case treatment of ten out of the original eleven sites which are taken from the original Strategic Siting Process, namely Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa. One further site, Dungeness, has been excluded from the NPS on environmental grounds. Three further sites were considered as alternatives but ruled out on various grounds, namely Kingsnorth, Druridge Bay and Owston Ferry.

As part of the Nuclear Power NPS, accepting that there could be adverse effects on some protected habitats under the Habitats Directive and Regulations, there is a statement of Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest. Alongside the Nuclear Power NPS, the government has issued draft proposed Justification decisions on two nuclear reactor designs, a further statement of confidence that effective arrangements to manage and dispose of water from new nuclear power stations can be put in place (back a deep geological repository, although on present plans this may not be available for 160 years, requiring a long view of interim storage)

The National Policy Statements are therefore of key importance to the further development of nuclear power, three forms of renewables (biomass and waste, offshore wind and onshore wind) and (with the proposed Energy Bill) the further elaboration of the statements of Carbon Capture Readiness and in support of Carbon Capture and Storage. They also contain important detail on technology-specific aspects of other elements of energy infrastructure. Consultation on the new National Policy Statements will extend to February 2010.

More detailed briefing will be available over the next few weeks as the full implications of these important announcements become clearer. Meanwhile, for further information on the National Planning Statements please contact:

Ross Fairley (Partner, Renewables, Clean Coal) on +44 (0)117 902 6351 or ross.fairley@burges-salmon.com

Ian Salter (Partner, Nuclear) on +44 (0)117 939 2225 or ian.salter@burges-salmon.com

Patrick Robinson (Partner, Planning) on +44 (0)117 902 2740 or patrick.robinson@burges-salmon.com

Julian Boswall (Partner, Planning) on +44 (0)117 307 6851 or julian.boswall@burges-salmon.com

William Wilson (Barrister, Carbon Capture & Storage) on +44 (0)117 939 2289 or william.wilson@burges-salmon.com

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