Energy policy speed slated

The revised energy national policy statement (NPS) documents have received a lukewarm response from the sector.

Fears have been raised over parliamentary scrutiny, assessment of alternatives, funding and the wait for a national planning framework.

Energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne told parliament this week it will have until 31 January to scrutinise the documents. Consultation will run until 24 January, with the intention of presenting the final statements for ratification next spring, he added.

But Bircham Dyson Bell partner Angus Walker warned that the Commons energy and climate change select committee deemed four months to digest the initial consultation last year as insufficient to consider sites proposed for nuclear development. Now it has until the end of December to produce its report. "However, a lot may cover the same ground," said Walker.

RTPI head of policy Matt Thomson responded: "We are pleased that some changes have been made in response to our comments on the previous consultation, such as reducing duplication between the NPSs."

But he added: "Initial assessment suggests that the NPSs still lack the strategic element required to properly assess alternatives. They have not followed the format of recent planning policy statements in presenting policy distinctly from background and guidance."

Town and Country Planning Association chief executive Kate Henderson backed the focus on reducing emissions. "However, we await clarity on how the NPSs and the national planning framework will work together to deliver a low-carbon economy," she added.

The Planning Officers Society said key points had not been tackled. These include the lack of funding for authorities to engage with applications, a location strategy for generating infrastructure, the separate consideration of overhead lines and the role of local authorities.

More on nuclear sites, page 2.


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