Consultation on draft National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure

The Planning Act 2008 amended the previous planning permission process for all major infrastructure projects (so-called 'nationally significant infrastructure projects') to make it more simple and transparent. The Act applies to energy, transport, water, waste water and waste projects. To improve the process, the Act established a new independent body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), responsible for evaluating applications for planning permission ('development consent') for nationally significant projects. The new simplified system will streamline the previous scheme into one process and impose strict timelines for examination and decision.

The IPC will decide on the merit on any such application insofar as a relevant National Policy Statement (NPS) is in force. NPSs are policy documents adopted by the government to set the policy framework within which the IPC should make its decision. The Planning Act 2008 leaves the Secretary of State discretion on the content of the NPS, but requires a public consultation to be undertaken before the document is finalised.

As a result, DECC launched a first Consultation on Draft National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure in November 2009. The consultation sought stakeholders' views on five draft NPSs and accompanying Appraisals of Sustainability in the following areas: fossil-fuel electricity generating infrastructures; renewable energy infrastructures; gas supply infrastructures and gas and oil pipelines; electricity networks infrastructure; and nuclear power generation. Comments were also sought on an overarching NPS for Energy. A Government Response was published in October 2010.

The new Coalition government elected in May 2010 released an amended set of NPSs, based on the responses received in the first consultation and the outputs of the Parliamentary scrutiny process. A second consultation period was held from 18 October 2010 and 24 January 2011. A response to the second consultation and a response to Parliamentary scrutiny have been published. A final set of NPSs were published in June 2011 and are pending Parliamentary approval.. The approved NPSs will become the benchmark for the IPC's decisions on applications for planning permission for nationally significant energy infrastructure under the Planning Act 2008. The release of CCS-relevant NPSs triggers the IPC's responsibility for development consent. However, upcoming legislative changes through the proposed Localism Bill are seeking to abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return to a position where the Secretary of State takes the final decision on major infrastructure proposals of national importance.

NPSs relevant to CCS activities are:

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