New National Energy Planning Statements aim for faster offshore wind consenting, networks undergrounded in national parks

A new end-to-end process for how offshore wind is developed and connected, power lines undergrounded in areas of natural beauty and lower fugitive emissions from SF6 gases used in electricity networks are among the aims mentioned in BEIS’s review of National Planning Statements (NPSs) for the energy sector.
The current NPSs, which govern decisions on development consent for national significant energy infrastructure were set out in 2011, before the government made a reduction to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 a legal requirement.
The statements being reviewed are:
• The overarching NPS (EN-1)
• Fossil fuel electricity generating infrastructure (EN-2)
• Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3)
• Gas supply infrastructure & gas and oil pipelines (EN-4)
• Electricity Networks Infrastructure (EN-5)
The draft addresses the need for more coordination in design and delivery of onshore and offshore electricity transmission infrastructure associated with the offshore wind farms and network reinforcements. It notes the current BEIS-led Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) and says it is seeking to design a new end-to-end process for how offshore wind is developed and connected, with the aim of being implemented for all projects coming through future sea bed leasing rounds.
On networks, the document says network infrastructure will be needed not only to connect generation, flexibility and demand, but also to guarantee system robustness and security of supply as the energy system grows more complex. The policy changes on undergrounding to give a “ strong starting presumption” that new lines should be undergrounded in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It encourages developers to pursue permanent land rights wherever possible, rather than relying on wayleaves. It says this “ will put our electricity networks on a more stable and secure footing, as well as ensuring better value for electricity billpayers in the long run”. And it says developers will have to take measures to reduce or eliminate the fugitive emission of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
EN1 acknowledges that “Due to the nature and size of potential schemes (as well as likely potential locations in areas such as coastal areas), opportunities for landscape mitigation will be limited” and although the NPS will take a “robust approach to addressing impacts on landscape, townscape and seascape … significant adverse effects are likely to remain.”
Another statement, on nuclear power generation (EN-6), covers planning and consents regime for nuclear projects deployable before 2025 and will not be amended as part of the review. BEIS said a new technology-specific NPS for nuclear electricity generation deployable after 2025 will be developed, including small modular units, and it envisages consulting on a siting approach for these as the next stage in the process.
The new statements also do not cover hydrogen in detail, since the policy surrounding hydrogen infrastructure is still in development. BEIS says, “Our upcoming hydrogen strategy will provide further detail on our approach.“
The consultation closes on 29 November, see details here

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