Yesterday Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband unveiled the Government’s long-awaited National Policy Statements (NPSs), which promise an expansion of renewables, nuclear power and clean coal technology.
The six draft NSPs on fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, transmission networks, oil and gas pipelines and one overarching statement will form the basis for planning decisions made by the newly formed Infrastructure Planning Commission starting next March.
“The threat of climate change means we need to make a transition from a system that relies heavily on high carbon fossil fuels, to a radically different system that includes nuclear, renewable and clean coal power,” said Miliband in his statement to Parliament.
The currently planning system is stifling this transition, he said, with decisions taking years to be made.
“That is why we are undertaking fundamental reform of the planning system which will result in a more efficient, transparent and accessible process,” he added.
The new process will cut the decision time on projects over 50 MW (100 MW for offshore wind) from two years or more to a year.
Despite much criticism, the Government maintains that the faster system will also provide more opportunities for the public to have their say on proposals.
The Nuclear NPS cements the Government’s commitment to developing a new generation of nuclear power stations to balance the intermittence of wind power and confirms ten sites for potential development.
Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa have all been designated as suitable for development by the end of 2025 and it will now be up to the nuclear industry to press forward with their plans. The only nominated site that was not confirmed because of environmental concerns was Dungeness.
The NPSs have been largely welcomed by the energy industry as a step in the right direction, but the Renewable Energy Association says it won’t make much difference to renewable energy projects, which are usually determined by local authorities.
Environmental groups are also criticising the Government’s decision to press ahead with new nuclear generation capacity.
“You can’t justify building more nuclear power stations when there is no solution to radioactive waste and when international regulators are saying there are huge uncertainties surrounding the basic safety of new reactor designs,” commented Ben Ayliffe of Greenpeace.
The draft NPSs are now open for consultation until February 22, 2010 and comments are invited from the public. The conclusions of the consultation will then go back to Parliament for scrutiny.
The Government also published its final Framework for the Development of Clean Coal.
For further information:
UK Government statement on nuclear power expected (9-Nov)
UK Government sets ambitious targets for clean coal (10-Nov)
The future of planning in the UK (3-Nov)
Gordon Brown sets out UK’s nuclear future (16-Jul)
UK unveils 11 potential sites for new nuclear power stations (17-Apr)
10 November 2009