Memorandum submitted by Friends of the
We believe that the Government has not adequately
responded to the recommendations of the Energy and Climate Change's
report on National Policy Statements (NPS). And bearing in mind
the importance of the issues and the long timescales over which
the NPSs will have effect proper scrutiny is critical and we hope
this is a role which the ECC committee will play.
Our concerns fall into four categories:
- (1) Climate change, and compatibility of
NPS with the carbon budgets in the Climate Change Act 2008.
- (2) The "need" for all types of
- (3) The revised Appraisals of Sustainability.
- (4) Good scrutiny and public consultation.
1. CLIMATE CHANGE
There are two concerns herefirst, that the
Government's medium-term vision is too hazy, second that there
are insufficient safeguards to prevent lock-in to high carbon
The Committee recommended that the Government take
on board the CCC's proposal to fully decarbonise the electricity
sector by 2030. The Government ignored this recommendation.
It is of deep concern that the Government is only
looking at the short-term (to 2022 the end of the first budget
period) and the long-term (the 2050 target). It is of course the
cumulative carbon emissions over the whole period 2010-50
which matter from a climate change point of view, not the start
and end pointsthe 2030 issue is critical. The Government's
assertion (section 4.38) that it does not need to measure carbon
emissions of new power stations because it is on track to meet
its budgets to 2022 is dangerously complacentthese stations
have a working life of several decades, not just to 2022. Similarly
the Government's statement (section 4.8) that the only climate
goal in energy policy is the 80% target ignores the critical issue
of the trajectory to that goal.
The CCC is issuing its 4th Budget report on 7 December.
We believe that the Government must amend their NPS and energy
policy to be compatible with necessary targets for 2030 for the
The Committee recommended (Recc. 9) a requirement
on applicants to conduct a full life-cycle carbon assessment of
The Government's responsethat this is not
necessary because applicants are already required to do this by
the EIA Directive, and that there's no point because the CC Act
existsis inadequate for three reasons:
First, applicants are not doing this carbon reporting
adequately under EIA, nor is the EIA clear what information should
be provided. It would help ensure better quality reporting by
making a clear requirement within the NPS.
Second, the CC Act only covers UK emissions, yet
full-life cycle emissions cover emissions abroad.
Third, the climate data is needed for purposes other
than meeting the CC Act. The NPS is clear (Part 4.1) that the
IPC needs to assess adverse impacts and benefits of applications,
"environmental, social and economic" in its decision-making
process. The IPC, now within a Government body, should be using
Treasury Green Book guidance, which recommends valuation of impacts
where possible, and the DECC carbon pricing guidance, which shows
how to do this for climate change, to enable it to measure adequately
the carbon impacts of the proposal against other benefits and
costs of the proposal. If the applicant does not provide this
data, the IPC cannot do this job properly.
The Committee recommended (Recc 6) that the Government
should look again at its need argument in EN-1. The Government
has done this, and re-asserted its claim that there is need for
all types of generation capacity, and "this need is urgent".
If anything, the data in the new EN-1 is even clearer that the
Government has not made this case.
This is an absolutely critical issue. There is an
extreme danger that the UK will lock itself into a new dash-for-gas.
Although gas is less carbon-intense than coal, it is still very
high-carbon. The CCC has highlighted this concern, and also in
evidence to the ECC committee recently has said that there is
no need for more gas beyond what has planning approval already.
This need argument is at the heart of the NPSwithout is
there is no justification for non-renewable capacity. The figures
- Energy NPS says UK needs 59 GW of new build.
- Around 33GW of this to 2025 needs to come from
renewables to meet UK renewables targets.
- So, 26 GW of non-renewables needed.
- Energy NPS says 8 GW of this 26 is already under
construction, leaving a "balance of 18 GW from new non-renewable
- Energy NPS also says in a footnote that there
is a further 9 GW of capacity with planning permission.
- Energy NPS argues this 9 GW should not be counted
"as we cannot be certain that these projects will become
operational, the Government considers it would not be prudent
to consider them". Around 5 GW of this is non-renewable.
- In addition there are also a large number of
planning applications "under consideration" under the
pre-IPC regime. As of Jan 2010 this included 7 GW of new gas alone.
The list is now even longera further 2.3 GW of gas has
been added. https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/EIP/pages/applications.htm
- Therefore, of the 18 GW needed, if the applications
with planning permission and those in the pre-IPC get built, that
is 14 GW already. There appears to be very little need for new
non-renewable capacity at all. If just two nuclear power stations
got built, there would be no need for new gas. If just two additional
gas plants were built, there would be no need for new nuclear.
- There are already applications in front of the
IPC for 5 GW of new gas and 15 GW of new nuclear.
It is not difficult to foresee a situation whereby
all these early gas and nuclear applications are granted, and
this glut suppresses the market for the 33GW of new renewables
the Government wants to see built.
It is also not difficult to foresee a situation of
lock-in to high carbon infrastructure, particularly given recent
reports of a weak EPS for gas and coal power stations, and CCS
requirements on only a small fraction of fossil-fuel generation.
The Government needs to put in place stronger policies
to prevent lock-in to high carbon infrastructure, and to ensure
that renewables development is not crowded out by new gas and
nuclear. The need argument is not robust, and it is being used
to justify unnecessary non-renewable build.
The fact that there is already 20GW of non-renewables
in front of the IPC also negates the Government's argument that
there should not be safeguards in the NPS on climate because they
can always take remedial action if necessary, for example through
stronger policies. By then it will be largely too late. If it
gets approved we will get locked-in.
The Appraisals of Sustainability for the draft NPSs
have been substantially revisedthis step was taken following
consultation responses and evidence submitted to the ECC committee
explaining that the approach which had been taken did not comply
with the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive and thus
the NPSs would have been open to legal challenge on designation.
DECC had originally asserted that the approach taken was compliantthis
development in itself demonstrates the power of effective scrutiny
to save wasted time and resources further down the line.
The Committee has had no opportunity to hear expert
evidence on the new Appraisals of Sustainability, which contain
a significant new body of information on the environmental impacts
of the NPSs, nor to scrutinise the new approach and satisfy itself
i) that it is legally compliant, and ii) that the choice of policy
in the NPS has been properly assessed and justified. Not only
in relation to the impact of the energy NPSs on the UK's carbon
budgets, but in relation to other environmental and social impacts.
4. SCRUTINY AND
4.1 Select Committee Scrutiny
The Government last time gave a clear commitment
that the NPS would go through a proper scrutiny process.
HC Deb 20 May 2009 cc1533-40 (Ian Wright)
"We have given an undertaking that Committees
will have at least four to six weeks after the end of the three-month
public consultation period to complete their work. This is an
important and valuable part of the parliamentary scrutiny process.
It means that the interval between the proposal being laid and
the Committee producing its report will not be less than four
months and will usually be longer than that. In practice, the
relevant period will therefore usually be about six months, but
my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State who will be laying
the proposals are fully aware of the need to consult Select Committees
about the timing of the scrutiny process at an early stage. I
hope that this explanation reassures the House that the process
will be timely and focused, but certainly not rushed."
However last time round the ECC Select Committee
process and the public consultation were carried out in parallelso
the above commitment was not adhered to. Friends of the Earth
believes that the Select Committee scrutiny process is a very
important (and unusual) part of designating these nationally important
policy documents which will have considerable legal weight.
4.2 Public Consultation
Friends of the Earth is also concerned that the Government
is not carrying out the public consultation process as set out
in the Planning Act 2008. We wrote to DECC in Feb 2009 setting
out our concerns on this pointespecially around NPS-EN6
on nuclear energy as it refers to specific sites.
To recap, Section 7(5) of the Planning Act 2008 provides
If the policy set out in the proposal identifies
one or more locations as suitable (or potentially suitable) for
a specified description of development, the Secretary of State
must ensure that appropriate steps are taken to publicise the
Section 8(1) of the 2008 Act provides:
Eight Consultation on publicity requirements:
- (1) In deciding what steps are appropriate
for the purposes of section 7(5), the Secretary of State must
- (a) each local authority that is within subsection
(2) or (3), and
- (b) the Greater London Authority, if any
of the locations concerned is in Greater London.
- (2) A local authority is within this subsection
if any of the locations concerned is in the authority's area.
- (3) A local authority ("A") is
within this subsection if:
- (a) any of the locations concerned is in
the area of another local authority ("B"), and
- (b) any part of the boundary of A's area
is also a part of the boundary of B's area.
In other words, where (as for EN-6) an NPS identifies
particular locations then the Secretary of State must consult
a specified set of local authorities with a view to deciding what
steps are appropriate to publicise the proposal(s). The reason
for that is, presumably, that such local authorities will be best
placed to advise the Secretary of State on how to ensure that
local public consultation is effective and meaningful in the context
where a local site has been specified as suitable for development.
The effect of section 8(3) is that a considerable
number of local authorities are required to be consulted on that
issue (including all district and county councils within which
a proposal is to be sited and all adjacent district and county
Friends of the Earth has written to DECC for confirmation
that consultation has been carried out with local authorities
around the nuclear sites but so far we have received no information
from them saying that they are.