The new guidance on Minerals in the National Planning Practice Guidance website relates to the question ‘Should mineral planning authorities allow time extensions to extract peat from existing sites?‘. In addition guidance has been issued on ‘Underground coal gasification‘ and ‘Underground storage of natural gas‘.
In particular one item of guidance answers the question "Are all proposals for underground storage of gas handled by the mineral planning authority?" The answer to this is stated as being that Mineral planning authorities in England will be responsible for determining underground gas storage proposals in their areas which:
- have an expected working capacity below 43 million standard cubic metres; or
- have an expected maximum flow rate below 4.5 million standard cubic metres per day.
Applications for storage projects above this size, are dealt with under the Planning Act 2008 (see section 1.8 of the Gas Supply Infrastructure and Gas and Oil Pipelines National Policy Statement, (EN-4)), and must be made to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
In relation to the question "Who are the key regulators for underground gas storage?" it is stated that the key regulators for underground gas storage are:
- Health and Safety Executive, who regulate safety during the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of underground gas storage sites. They are also responsible for regulating the safety of pipelines connecting to the storage facility and, where the proposal is to use a depleted oil or gas reservoir, for ensuring the appropriate design and construction of a well casing for any borehole.
- Environment Agency, who are responsible for protecting water resources (including groundwater aquifers), ensuring the appropriate treatment and disposal of waste arising from the construction and operation of the site, and air emissions;
- Mineral Planning Authorities, who grant permission for the location of those gas storage surface activities for which they hold planning responsibility. They are also responsible for ensuring geological integrity given the risks of subsidence and other impact on the use of land;
- Hazardous Substances Authorities, who are usually local planning authorities, who may need to provide hazardous substances consents; and
- Department of Energy and Climate Change who, if the thresholds referred to in paragraph 7 above are met, are the decision-making authority for applications for Development Consent Orders under the Planning Act 2008. If sought by the developer, a Development Consent Order might also include powers of compulsory acquisition and directions that planning permission and hazardous substances consent are deemed to be granted. Where the proposal is to use a depleted oil and gas reservoir, the applicant must also submit a field development plan to the Department of Energy and Climate Change for approval.
Date: 17/10/2014 Date of publication
DCP link: This item updates DCP section 25.131