Memorandum submitted by the Town and Country Planning Association (NPS 2)

 

1.0 About the TCPA

1.1 The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is an independent charity working to improve the art and science of town and country planning. Representing the views of our membership organisations and individuals from local authorities, planning academics and practitioners under the policy guidance of the Policy Council, the TCPA puts social justice and the environment at the heart of policy debate and inspires government, industry and campaigners to take a fresh perspective on major issues, including planning policy, housing, regeneration and climate change. Our objectives are to:

Secure a decent, well designed home for everyone, in a human-scale environment combining the best features of town and country

Empower people and communities to influence decisions that affect them

Improve the planning system in accordance with the principles of sustainable development

 

1.2 The TCPA vision for sustainable energy, as set out in the TCPA Policy Statement: Planning for a Sustainable Energy[1], is for clean, safe, low carbon energy generated more closely to the communities and households it serves. A decentralised energy system will ensure less waste, greater efficiency, more direct local benefits from energy installations, and stronger incentives to employ generation methods benign in their impacts on people and the environment. A sustainable future of this kind, that integrates people's needs with those of the environment, has consistently been the TCPA's mission.

 

 

2.0 Summary of TCPA evidence

2.1 The Planning Act 2008 sets out a powerful new regime for the approval of major energy and transport infrastructure. The Energy National Policy Statements (NPS) published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in November 2009 set out a new framework which is intended to shape long term energy supply. The TCPA is committed to the need for a national spatial framework so long as it delivers sustainable development and in particular prioritises action on social justice and climate change. The TCPA accepted Government assurances that NPS would set a pathway to a low carbon future, would allow for proper public participation and would be rigorously tested by a fulsome parliamentary process.

 

2.2 The TCPA does not have the capacity to deal in detail with all five energy NPSs in the time available. However, it is our provisional view that the Draft Overarching Energy NPS (EN-1)[2] profoundly fails two important procedural and substantive policy tests:

 

The process of adopting the NPS does not allow sufficient scrutiny given the powerful nature of the documents. In particular it is not clear that there has been sufficient public engagement or investment in a public awareness campaign. Neither has the NPS been subject to minimum requirements of testing that other planning documents of much less significance to our national future are subject to.

 

The substantive contents of the NPS fail in two ways. First it fails to ensure that the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) has a coherent metric for understanding carbon and in fact removes the IPC from having any consideration of carbon emissions in relation to UK budgets. Instead it places total reliance on the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Second, and related, it follows a free market vision of new energy development and does not allow the IPC to consider need. In this way there is no mechanism to ensure that the sum of private sector investment decisions necessary delivers on key scenarios of the Government's Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP)[3], the Renewable Energy Strategy (RES)[4] or the objectives of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)[5].

 

2.3 Our evidence provides more detail on both issues. It is important to state that the TCPA has worked closely with Friends of the Earth (FoE) in a long term project to promote new transformational planning policy on climate change[6]. We had hoped to submit joint evidence around the issue of carbon assessments and energy need and many of our key points represented here on carbon budgeting have been developed by FoE and will be explored in more detail in their written and oral evidence to the Committee.

 

 

3.0 Is the process of preparing NPS adequate?

3.1 The Status of NPS

3.1.1 Proper scrutiny of planning policies should be proportionate to their influence over final outcomes. NPSs have unprecedented power in planning decision making.

 

3.1.2 The Draft Overarching Energy NPS (EN-1) repeatedly makes clear that NPS is the 'primary' consideration for the IPC and that NPS takes precedence over all other planning documents (4.1.2). The Planning Act 2008[7] sets out even more forcibly the status of NPS. The IPC 'must decide the application in accordance with any relevant national policy statement...'(Section 104 (3) Planning Act 2008). The Act does provide for exceptions which are tightly defined, but includes the circumstances where impacts might outweigh benefits (Section 104 (7)). However, it is hard to see how this test might be met when the energy NPS make clear the overwhelming benefits of, and necessity for, all kinds of energy infrastructure.[8]

 

3.1.3 The weight to be given to NPS in decision making appears to be more forceful than that given to existing development plans under the Town and Country Planning regime. The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 reinforced the plan led system with decisions being made in accordance with the plan (Section 38 (6) Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004)[9]. However, the exception to this provision is much more broadly drawn including any 'material considerations'. The point is that the NPS have the legal status of a kind of 'super development plan' which appears to provide much more limited discretion for the decision-maker than any other form of planning.

 

3.1.4 This powerful new status implies that the testing and examination of NPS should at least meet the standards of lower tier local and regional planning documents. This is even more important given that the IPC cannot reopen policy issues settled in NPS (Section 106 (b) 2008 Planning Act) and because the IPC is not democratically accountable for its individual decisions.

 

3.1.5 The comparison between the level of statutory public engagement in Regional and Local planning and the NPS preparation is, however, stark.

 

3.1.6 For example, Local Planning Authorities must prepare a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) which sets out how people will be involved and prioritises public engagement. In addition there are two defined periods of public participation in plan preparation (PPS 12)[10] and a statutory right to be heard for any participant who makes representations in a independent examination (Section 20 (6) Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004). This provision safe guards the system from potential Human Rights Act (HRA) challenges under Article 6 (right to fair hearing)[11]. This potential engagement of the HRA is related to the Local Development Framework's (LDF) allocation of site specific development proposals. We note that at least one of the Energy NPS is a site specific document. Table 1 below provides a comparison of public involvement and engagement requirements between the NPS, RSS and LDF frameworks. It is significant that there is no examination in public of NPS. Instead the full weight of independent testing of NPS falls on the parliamentary process and in this case on the ECC committee.

 

 

National Policy Statement

Regional Spatial Strategy

Regional Strategy

Development Plan Document (LDF)

 

Process governed by the Infrastructure Planning (National Policy Statement Consultation) Regulations 2009

 

Preparation process governed by the Town and Country Planning (Regional Planning) (England) Regulations 2004

Preparation process to be governed by the Town and Country Planning (Regional Strategy) (England) Regulations 2010 in Spring 2010

 

Preparation process governed by the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004

Pre Plan Production

 

Not required

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

 

 

Section 6: Regional planning body to publish and keep under review a statement of policies for involvement

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

 

Section 75: Responsible Regional Authority to publish and keep under review a statement of policies for involvement

 

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

 

 

Section 18: Local Planning Authority to publish and keep under review a statement of community involvement

Draft Submission

Planning Act 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Section 5(4): NPS to be consulted on

 

Section 7: Secretary of State's duty for consultation and publicity

Planning Policy Statement 11: Regional Spatial Strategies, 2004

 

 

 

 

Annex D: Guidance on community involvement in preparing RSSs

 

 

Policy Statement on Regional Strategies and Guidance on the establishment of Leaders' Boards: Consultation, 2009

 

Section 5: Proposed guidance on revising regional strategies with stakeholder and public engagement

 

Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning, 2008

 

 

 

 

Paras 4.19-4.29: Guidance on participation in preparing Core Strategies

Examination

Planning Act 2008

 

 

 

 

Section 9: Parliamentary scrutiny requirements

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

 

 

Section 8: Examination in public

 

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

 

Section 76: Examination in public

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

 

 

Section 20: Examination in public including a right to be heard.

 

 

Table 1. Comparison of public involvement and engagement requirements of different spatial frameworks.

 

 

3.1.7 The Planning Act 2008 gives wide discretion to the relevant Secretary of State as to how to proceed with public consultation on NPS. According to the DECC website the department have set out three opportunities for public involvement:

A written response to the NPS

Attendance at 5 half day national events in five cities[12]

Attendance at 10 local events in communities affected by the nuclear build.[13]

 

3.1.8 In addition Planning Aid England has published a series of brief 2-page leaflets on each NPS[14].

 

3.1.9 On 18th December 2009 the TCPA also received email notification from DECC of three stakeholder events. The first workshop on 25 January will focus on draft NPSs EN-1, EN-2, EN-3, EN-4 and EN-5, covering the draft overarching NPS, fossil fuels, renewable generation, gas storage & oil and gas pipelines and electricity networks. The second workshop will be on 2 February and focus on the draft NPS for nuclear power generation, EN-6. The third workshop on 3 February will discuss the Appraisals of Sustainability (AoS) and Habitats Regulations Assessments (HRA) for all draft Energy NPSs, including nuclear (EN-6).

3.1.10 The TCPA is not aware of a funded communications strategy to support this consultation process. For example, according to the Hartlepool Mail newspaper only 100 people attended the consultation events for a new nuclear power station in Hartlepool. Of those that did attend the consultation event, only 35 attended a public meeting. The local media suggested this was mainly due to the short notice given for the consultation events.[15] The Nuclear NPS (along with the other Energy NPSs) was published on Monday 9th November with the 3 day consultation event in Hartlepool starting the same week on Thursday, 12th November.

 

3.1.11 The TCPA believes that the opportunities for public engagement are wholly inadequate. Five national half day events for England and Wales do not provide a fulsome opportunity for public engagement. Neither does the current publicly available information communicate the potential impacts of say new nuclear build on people's health in way likely to aid the understanding of local communities. Communicating the importance of such national policy to communities is acutely important since these issues cannot normally be reopened by the IPC once settled by the NPS.

 

3.1.12 Of equal significance is the absence of any independent examination of NPS prior to adoption by an equivalent body of expertise such as the Planning Inspectorate. Crucially, the whole weight of this necessary function falls on the relevant parliamentary select committees. We remain concerned that such select committees will not have the time or resources to provide sufficiently stringent scrutiny. For example, a Local Development Framework (LDF) examination might last between 4 and 6 weeks, but in session most working days. We are concerned that the select committee process must also provide for site visits and for individuals directly affected to have a right to be heard.

 

3.1.13 Overall we believe that while DECC may have conducted themselves lawfully, by meeting the minimum standards set down by Cabinet Office rules, they have failed to provide the necessary time and resources to ensure meaningful public debate. It is also clear that little or no regard has been paid to other Government guidance set out in Community Involvement in Planning: The Governments Objectives. (ODPM 2004) This document provides guidance to the rest of the town and country planning regime and is specifically mentioned in the Planning White Paper in relation to consultation on NPS (paragraph 3.25 bullet 4 Planning for a Sustainable Future. CLG 2007). This document sets out clear operational principles for community engagement which do not appear to have been applied or even considered in the consultation process for NPS. The document specifically makes clear that 'It is not enough for participation to focus on providing information and consultation on proposals that have already been adopted to the point where it is difficult to take other views on board' (Paragraph 2.4 Community Involvement in Planning ODP 2004.

 

3.1.14 While organising a national consultation programme is challenging there appears to have been no attempt to work with other partners in the media or social sectors to find imaginative ways of raising the profile of these vital documents. One obvious example of this opportunity would have been to work closely with local authorities in directly affected areas. Hartlepool Council intends to set up its own consultation web site but the most basic pre-planning by DECC would have allowed this local resource to be live at the beginning of the public consultation and not half way through its duration.

 

3.2 The systematic testing of NPS

3.2.1 As well as formal arrangements for public participation, other planning documents have a systematic and transparent framework for the examination of development plan documents and their supporting evidence. This is known as the 'soundness test'. Guidance for the testing of soundness in examinations in public for both Regional Spatial Strategies[16] and Local Development Framework Development Plan Documents[17] are provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and by the Planning Inspectorate to ensure that participants understand how the test is applied. The test is vital to ensure that plans are fit for purpose. This means that differing plans have to conform to minimum standards of justification and effectiveness (including proper evidence gathering and community participation as well as deliverability).

 

3.2.2 The TCPA believes that a clear assessment framework is a vital pre-requisite for public confidence as well as ensuring consistency of approach and assessments of the different NPSs. This concern is reinforced by the fact that different select committees from different Government departments will be examining differing NPSs. TCPA is not aware of any comprehensive or systematic guidance provided to the select committees on assessing the soundness of NPSs.

 

3.2.3 The TCPA is also concerned about the overlap between the public consultation process and the Energy & Climate Change Committee's deliberation. The Association is concerned that this may limit the Committee's ability to fully consider the results of the public consultation and is likely to confuse members of the public wishing to submit evidence to the Committee. We note with concern that the evidence sessions of the Committee do not appear to include any representative of a community organisation that will be directly affected by NPS policy.

 

 

3.3. Empowering the NPS in Town and Country Planning decisions

3.3.1 We note that the Draft Overarching Energy NPS states that NPS can be relevant and material to decisions in the rest of the town and country planning system[18]. This is reflected in CLG's letter on the NPSs to all Chief Planning Officers on the 9th November 2009[19]. In this letter, it is made clear that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and responsible regional authorities should consider the extent to which emerging plans and strategies can reasonably have regard to emerging NPSs, depending on the stage which the development plan has reached. NPSs are also likely to be material consideration in areas where development plans are out of date. Where there are conflicts with local or regional plans, the designated NPSs will prevail (Annex A Paragraph 18). In addition, the TCPA understand that there is active debate in CLG as to whether critical considerations of impacts of smaller scale energy projects below the IPC thresholds of 50MW should be contained in NPS and not repeated in the Planning Policy Statements (PPS) which guide decisions in the Town and Country Planning system.

 

3.3.2 The TCPA views this as a major mistake. First, NPS have a specific legislative purpose for the operation of the IPC. They are primarily designed to guide the decisions of that body. As a consequence, while the TCPA welcomes the limited degree of clarification from CLG's letter, their legal status in the rest of the planning system is uncertain and will have to be resolved in the courts. Providing policy that is vital for Town and Country Planning in the NPS documents will result in uncertainty and delay and is an unnecessary complication of an already procedurally complex system.

 

3.4 Does the substantive policy content of NPS support national policy for a low carbon economy?

3.4.1 In the passage of the Planning Bill there was much debate about how to ensure that the policy (NPS) and decision making process (IPC) contributed to reducing carbon emissions in line with the requirements of the Climate Change Act 2008. Assurances were given that the NPS and the duty for them to consider climate change (in Section 10(3) of the Planning Act 2008) would mean that the final decision-maker, the IPC, did not need to have a separate duty to address carbon emissions. Key parliamentarians disputed this proposition arguing that to avoid carbon leakage the body who grants final consent for major infrastructure must at least be able to understand the carbon profile of new development. This is to ensure that the IPC can report on the sum of all its decisions and therefore be confident it is supporting and not compromising the Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP) and domestic carbon targets set by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

 

3.4.2 We now know that the NPS are not to be assessed for their carbon profile and that the IPC is being positively prohibited from considering carbon impacts in relation to CCC budgets[20]. We also know that the energy NPS sets out a free market vision of energy production and does not wish to prescribe through policy the amount of capacity of, say gas, which the market brings forward. The Government argues that this is because all emissions from new development will be covered by the European Union Emissions Trading scheme (EU ETS). It further argues that other fiscal policy will control market conditions to deliver on national policy (for example, the renewables feed-in tariff).

 

3.4.3 All of the arguments surrounding this issue are complex and go to the heart of Government's commitment to deliver of the ambitions of the Climate Act 2008. Our overall argument is that the NPS process should address the following fundamental issues to ensure effective policy:

 

Given that the IPC is not required to consider the sum total of climate emissions from its development decisions how will we know if such emissions are in line with the Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP) scenarios or with domestic carbon budgets?

 

How will the IPC account for emissions not covered by the EU ETS such as embodied carbon in the construction phase or emissions not intended to be covered by EU ETS for some years (such as aviation)?

 

Given that the IPC is prohibited from considering the need for energy infrastructure and that NPS have a market driven framework how do we ensure that the ambitions of the LCTP or the RES are fulfilled? Put simply, there is no mechanism to prevent the IPC from approving all our future energy needs through coal which, even under the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Capture-Ready (CR) policy, is much more carbon intensive than renewables.

 

Given the whole weight of ensuring carbon reduction falls on EU ETS are we comfortable that the framework will deliver given its poor record so far? Higher emissions in the UK would mean buying credits from elsewhere in Europe and from developing nations outside the EU.

 

3.4.4 There are important arguments about all of these issues, but there is one profound paradox in the new framework. Government has created the most powerful planning body since the war and, in principle, the most powerful policy documents to guide the IPC's actions. However, Government has failed to employ this potential power to deliver on the domestic climate change agenda. Instead of allowing the IPC to ensure that its decisions deliver on the energy mix set out in Government policy it has prohibited it from considering need and allowed the free market to determine the energy mix, shaped only by a set of market regulation which may or may not deliver on the policy. This approach represents a remarkable lost opportunity to deliver the vision of a low carbon society through spatial planning.

 

3.4.5 This paradox goes to the heart of the relationship between spatial planning policy and market regulation. While both these ideas need to be employed to tackle climate change, Government has failed to offer a transparent framework to ensure that these mechanisms dovetail together.

 

3.4.6 The Draft Overarching Energy NPS is explicit[21] that the IPC does not need to assess individual applications in terms of carbon emissions against the Climate Change Act 2008 budgets. It also sets out that there is "need" for infrastructure of all main types - renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels - and that the IPC need not consider "need" in its decisions[22]. The NPS acknowledge that the type of applications coming forward from developers will depend on market conditions and it is, therefore, impossible to know what the final energy mix the private sector will determine[23]. In this context, it is possible that a large number of carbon-intensive projects could come forward, and in this case there is the potential for the UK's carbon budgets to be breached.

 

3.4.7 The Government's broad response to this concern is to argue that the policies underpinning the NPS are set in accordance with the Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP), the Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) and the carbon budgets set out by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), and that therefore this concern is not likely to be a problem.

 

3.4.8 However, since the NPS also makes clear that no part of the RES should be treated a firm target in decision making ('the lead scenario presented in the Renewable Energy Strategy should not be seen as a sector or technological target'[24]), it is hard to see how this claim can be considered sound. It is vital that Parliament explore the scale of what appears to be a set of key contradictions in the NPS framework which may result in UK carbon budgets being breached.

 

3.5 Does the NPS framework support the UK carbon budgets?

3.5.1 The Low Carbon Transition Plan (LCTP) sets out an anticipated trajectory for UK carbon budgets in both the traded and non-traded sectors. The "traded" sector are those emissions which are covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), mainly electricity generation, heavy industry, and (from 2012) aviation. This trajectory anticipates a certain mix of new renewable, coal, gas and nuclear plants coming forward in the next 20 years, according to its modelling of the existing policy framework, and other estimates (e.g. on fossil fuel prices and economic growth rates).

 

3.5.2 It is distinctly possible that many more applications for gas-fired power stations, for example, could come forward from developers, than in these modelled scenarios, and that the IPC would have to give consent (as the NPS say that "need" has been demonstrated). Put simply this could result in much greater carbon intensity than anticipated with consequent impacts on UK carbon budgets (note: gas is a useful example because unlike coal no gas-fired station has to install CCS).

 

3.6 But does a more carbon intensive energy mix matter to the carbon budgets?

3.6.1 While this might sound counter intuitive, it is our understanding that DECC has argued that the impact of a more carbon intensive energy mix on the carbon budget would be zero. In the traded sector, the UK Government records "allocated" emissions of permits in the EU ETS as the contribution of that sector to UK carbon budgets. So, it does not matter at all, for the purpose of meeting the UK carbon budgets, what happens, whether gas or renewable power stations are built so long as sufficient carbon credits can be purchased in the trading system. Government ministers have also argued that if UK emissions in the traded sector were higher than anticipated this does not matter from a climate perspective, as overall in the EU emissions are capped. For example, if UK emissions are higher than budgeted, emissions in, say, Poland will have to be lower - so that the cap is met. This means that the NPS series essentially wash their hands of any carbon controls and that the whole carbon approach of Government in NPS rests on the success of the EU ETS.

 

3.7 But does the EU ETS work?

3.7.1 There are a growing number of organisations who are critical of the effectiveness of the EU ETS. These concerns surround particular market failures in the price of carbon and effectiveness and ethics of purchasing carbon credits from developing nations whose emissions are not capped. This is widely regarded as a form of carbon off-setting and allows the EU carbon cap to be exceeded so long as credits are purchased by investment in developing nations. Buying credits from uncapped nations means that the climate integrity of the EU ETS is heavily compromised. Professor Paul Ekins sets out a clear view on what is wrong with the offsetting element in recent written evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee.[25]

 

3.7.2 The concerns are well established but have been strongly reinforced by the Committee on Climate Change's October 2009 Progress Report[26]. The report concluded that significant policy change is required in number of areas but particularly in power generation '...where the current combination of markets and market instruments (the electricity markets and the EU ETS) is not best designed to deliver required long term decarbonisation and where a combination of additional policies and more fundamental review of approaches is likely to be required'[27]

 

3.7.3 The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) addresses the low price of carbon which is unlikely to 'incentive investments in low carbon technologies':[28]

'The only situation where investments in low carbon technology would then proceed is if investors attach significant weight to scenarios with a significantly increasing carbon price over the next decade and through the 2020s. We believe that this is currently unlikely for two reasons:

There is a great deal of uncertainty over what the arrangements will be for determining the carbon price in the 2020s.

It is difficult to make an investment business case around a price that is currently low but that is projected to increase significantly in 20 years time, particularly where the increase is subject to significant political risk. We cannot therefore be confident that the EU ETS will deliver the required low-carbon investments for decarbonisation of the traded sector through the 2020s.'[29]

 

3.7.4 The CCC concludes that a likely scenario is greater investment in carbon intensive generation plants and particularly in gas and highlights that "this is problematic given the centrality of power sector decarbonisation to decarbonisation in other sectors on the path to meeting the 2050 target"[30]. The CCC report is clear that while the switch to gas may meet interim targets it will not put us on the path to a decarbonised electricity sector beyond that. Put simply the EU ETS will not have incentivised the construction of the right kinds of generation kit to meet the 2050 target.

 

3.7.5 It is clear that there is a gap between the reliance placed on EU ETS in the Draft Overarching Energy NPS and analysis and advice of the CCC: 'There is an approach to power generation that says emissions from the sector are capped and that we can entirely rely on the market to determine the appropriate path to decarbonisation. This is not, however, an approach that the Committee accepts. Whilst inclusion of the power sector in the EU ETS will deliver the emissions cuts required in the sector to 2020, it will not automatically bring forward the low-carbon investment to deliver required emissions cuts in the 2020s and beyond. This is because the EU ETS cap to 2020 could be met through coal to gas switching without any significant new investment in low carbon plant, and because the cap beyond 2020 is highly uncertain.'[31]

 

3.7.6 Building more carbon-intensive infrastructure will lock us into carbon emissions for decades, making it much harder to meet much tougher carbon budgets in future. This last point is one which the Committee on Climate Change have argued strongly, saying that decarbonisation of the electricity sector is essential by 2030 to meet long-term goals. The broad conclusion of the CCC appears to be that Government would be wise not to base the UK's climate strategies with too much faith in the EU ETS since it is not delivering the carbon price to push investments fast enough down a low-carbon path. Given that the scientific evidence suggests that carbon budgets will have to be revised to be even more stringent it is vital that we urgently begin decarbonising electricity.

 

3.7.7 It interesting to reflect that given all this complexity and uncertainty about the EU ETS that Government could, as we have made clear, simply ensure that the NPS contain direct guidance to the IPC not to approve energy development which compromises the LCTP or domestic budgets. Spatial planning delivers such a framework as in many other sectors and is designed to ensure private sector interest and investment are mediated and shaped by a clear framework of regulation which ensures outcomes are in the wider public interest.

 

3.8. Is there a genuine need for all types of energy infrastructure?

3.8.1 The NPS is very strongly advocating that there is overwhelming need for renewables, nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure (the coal element of the latter with some CCS requirement). Overall, we are concerned that the need for major energy infrastructure may be exaggerated. For example we are keen to test the validity of low estimates for potential alternatives, such as decentralised energy. The lead scenario in the UK's Renewable Energy Strategy contains around 4 GW of small scale electricity generation.[32] We believe this to be a significant underestimate of the true potential for decentralised energy which will benefit from the feed-in tariff.

 

3.8.2 The Draft Overarching Energy NPS sets out the need for 43 GW of new capacity by 2020, and a 60 GW by 2025. It sets out that 26 GW of the 43 GW by 2020 will come from renewables, and the other 17 GW from other sources (i.e. fossil fuels and nuclear). For 2025, it is 35 GW renewables and 25 GW "other" generating capacity[33].

 

3.8.3 However, the Draft Overarching Energy NPS also states that 20.5 GW of the 43 GW is already commissioned, constructed or with all the planning consents. It appears from a very initial analysis of what type of plants comprise this 20.5 GW that a very large proportion of it is gas - meaning that there could in fact be very little requirement for non-renewable capacity by 2020 (and 2025). This figure looks set to diminish even further because there is a very large number of "applications under consideration" at present - these are not part of the 20.5 GW, and they are also not part of the IPC decision making process. Again, a very large percentage of these applications are gas power stations.[34]

 

3.8.4 The initial conclusion from this is that there could in fact be very little "need" for non-renewables to be consented by IPC, given the large amount of gas already consented, and gas projects at the application stage (and largely likely to be granted). In this situation, the NPS guidance is rightly demonstrating large need for renewables, but this need is not the case for nuclear or fossil fuels.

 

4.0 How can NPS be improved?

4.1.1 The Government should integrate the objectives of the LCTP, RES and CCC into a more prescriptive energy policy framework capable of swift and effective implementation. In the TCPA's view a starting point would be to ensure that the lead scenario of the LCTP is identified as a firm objective and not simply an illustrative proposition.

 

4.1.2 The NPSs should then reflect these objectives and set clear and prescriptive policy to enable the IPC to deliver effective decision making. Such figures should be based on detailed time horizons up to 2020 but also contain indicative scenarios up to 2050 to make clear the direction of policy travel. The IPC itself must of course be able to consider need so that where applications appear to conflict with NPS policy they should be refused.

 

4.1.3 While other organisations have greater expertise on energy policy we strongly believe that the NPSs should be carefully reassessed to test whether in fact the blanket need for all new energy infrastructure is logical or justified. This is particularly relevant in relation to the amount of energy infrastrsture currently approved or proposed under the existing consent regime.

 

4.2 Why the IPC needs a proper carbon assessment framework

4.2.1 The assessment principles section of the Draft Overarching Energy NPS includes insect infestation but not carbon or other green house gas emissions[35]. To be precise this means the IPC lacks a metric to assess carbon in coherent and systematic manner. For the IPC the carbon impact of coal fired power station is simply not a key decision making matter.

 

4.2.2 We have made clear that we do not accept that the EU ETS, as currently in operation, provides the right framework to tackle climate mitigation. However even if we accept that this is the subject of separate debate there are still powerful reasons why the IPC must at least understand and consider carbon emissions.

 

4.2.3 The IPC must understand the full carbon life cycle of major energy infrastructure in order to contribute to accurate real world, rather than assumed levels of emissions. This should be based on carbon profile assessment provided as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Failure to provide such data under the EU EIA Directive would in any event be legally dubious and therefore the IPC should have clear guidance on how to assess such data. The carbon data from the sum total of consent orders should form part of the IPC annual report and will be of vital importance to both DECC and the CCC in judging the accuracy of forecast emissions from particular technologies and sectors. This allows the CCC to continue its oversight role of NPS as they are reviewed.

 

4.2.4 The IPC must be able to deal coherently with the impact of carbon emissions not covered by EU ETS. These emissions have a major environmental impact and must be weighted in the assessments of whether a development should gain consent. This ensures that there is no potential for significant carbon leakage. There are three categories of such emissions:

Those emission not yet covered by EU ETS where there is uncertainty about how emissions will be treated (such as aviation)

Those emissions not related to EU ETS which arise from construction such as the embodied carbon profile of concrete. The applicant's assessment should set out the full lifecycle carbon emissions - sourcing, construction, operation and disposal

Those emissions which may compromise international climate obligations. The IPC must have regard to these as part of the law, such as the carbon intensity of fuel sources. This applies specifically to Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) where very significant emissions arise from liquefaction in nations outside the EU.

 

4.2.5 In addition the challenge of rapidly changing climate science reinforces the need for the IPC to adopt a flexible and informed approach to understanding climate mitigation particular where NPS policy becomes rapidly out of date. There should be a memorandum of understanding between the IPC and CCC to ensure the IPC has the latest climate science and objectives to inform its decision making.

 

5.0 Conclusion

5.1 The TCPA strongly supports the need for a national spatial framework and has long campaigned for this, making the case for it in its 2006 report, Connecting England. However it must:

Demonstrate an integrated and consistent approach across the NPS series, informing a joined up national infrastructure framework to enable confident and sustainable local, sub-regional and regional decision making.

Ensure relevant policies from across Government are given clear and effective spatial expression in NPSs. For example, the Energy NPS series should join up with the Renewable Energy Strategy and Low Carbon Transition Plan.

Provide an adequate timescale for consultation to ensure it is fair, transparent and just, meeting the tests of the Aarhus Convention and the Human Rights Act.

 

January 2010



[1] TCPA Policy Statement: Planning for a Sustainable Energy, June 2006

[2] Draft Overarching Energy NPS (EN-1) www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/overarching/

[3] Low Carbon Transition Plan www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/publications/lc_trans_plan/lc_trans_plan.aspx

[4] Renewable Energy Strategy www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/energy_mix/renewable/res/res.aspx

[5] Committee on Climate Change http://www.theccc.org.uk/about-the-ccc

[6] Planning and Climate Change Coalition: Position Statement www.tcpa.org.uk/data/files/pccc_position_statement.pdf

[7] Planning Act 2008

[8] One of the questions the TCPA are left with is how will the IPC meet it's legal obligation on renewable energy delivery as set out by the EU Renewables Directive?

[9] Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2004/ukpga_20040005_en_1

[10] Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planning/regionallocal/localdevelopmentframeworks/pps12/

[11] Human Rights Act http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts1998/ukpga_19980042_en_3

[12] DECC consultation on Energy NPSs - National Events - www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/home/events/nationalevents/

[13] DECC consultation on Energy NPS - Local Events - www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/home/events/localevents/

[14] Planning Aid briefing leaflets on the NPS http://www.nationalpolicystatements.org.uk/

[15] Hartlepool Mail, 16 November 2009. Have your say on nuclear power plan. www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/Have-your-say-on-nuclear.5827195.jp

[16] CLG, September 2004, Planning Policy Statement 11: Regional Spatial Strategies, Paragraph 2.49, Page 42

[17] CLG, June 2008, Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Spatial Planning, Paragraphs 4.51 and 4.52, Page 19 and 20

[18] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Section 1.2.1. Page 2 'Role of this NPS in the planning system' http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[19] Dear Chief Planning Officer Letter on National Policy Statements, www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/1376507.pdf

[20] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Section 2.1.5. Page 8 'The transition to a low carbon economy' http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[21] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Section 2.1.5. Page 8 'The transition to a low carbon economy' http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[22] Ibid., 'Conclusion on need' Page 14 http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[23] Ibid., Section 3.3.15 Page 19 http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[24] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Footnote 11, Page 22 which is in reference to section 3.4. Renewable Electricity Generation. http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

 

[25] Professor Paul Ekins written evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmenvaud/memo/carbonbudgets/ucm1102.htm

[26] Committee on Climate Change. 12 October 2009, Meeting Carbon Budgets - the need for a step change. Progress report to Parliament Committee on Climate Change. http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/docs/21667%20CCC%20Executive%20Summary%20AW%20v4.pdf

[27] Ibid., Foreword to the Report. Page 3.

[28] Ibid., Page 38.

[29] Committee on Climate Change. 12 October 2009, Meeting Carbon Budgets - the need for a step change. Progress report to Parliament Committee on Climate Change, Page 70, http://hmccc.s3.amazonaws.com/docs/21667%20CCC%20Executive%20Summary%20AW%20v4.pdf

[30] Ibid., Chapter 3. Emission reduction scenarios and indicators, Page 103

[31] Ibid., Page 116. Chapter 4, section 2. Scenarios for power sector decarbonisation to 2022

[32] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Section 3.3.18. Page 20 http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf

[33] Ibid., Section 3.3.14. Page 19

[34] Ibid., Section 3.3.12. Page 18

[35] Draft Overarching Energy NPS. Section 4.21. Page 65 Dust, Odour, Artificial Light, Smoke, Steam and Insect Infestation http://data.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/documents/npss/EN-1.pdf