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Business Committee says Government should ‘be explicit on net zero target’ in its approval process for major energy infrastructure

25 February 2022

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee welcomes the Government’s move to revise its energy National Policy Statement (NPS) which will be used to approve the construction of major energy infrastructure projects, in a report published today.

The report follows the BEIS Committee’s inquiry scrutinising the Government’s draft energy NPS and whether the new Statement will support the Government in its statutory target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, as stated in its Energy White Paper.

The NPS is a suite of documents that provide a legal framework that the Secretary of State for BEIS must use when deciding whether to approve the construction of ‘nationally significant’ energy infrastructure projects, such as offshore wind farms, power stations, storage and network facilities.

The report finds that the NPS should explicitly give greater weight to the “urgent” need to build new energy infrastructure that will increase the supply of low-carbon energy in the UK’s network. In its current form, the draft revised NPS does not provide the "step change" needed to deliver the required scale of new nationally significant infrastructure projects at a sufficiently rapid pace to deliver the Government's net zero aims.

The report also recommends the wording of the NPS provide the Secretary of State with flexibility to consider and give consent to new technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

The report also recommends that the Government “reconsider” its decision to remove onshore wind from the NPS. Onshore wind has been identified as a key component in the transition to net zero.

Chair's comments

Darren Jones MP, Chair of the BEIS Committee, said:

“The Government has a huge amount of work to do in partnership with industry to deliver the energy infrastructure required to hit Net Zero. The revision of the energy National Policy Statement is therefore welcome but more needs to be done on how this work links to reform of the planning system and the increased delivery of infrastructure across the UK.”

The Government’s energy NPS was first designated in 2011 and has not been updated since. The Committee’s report recommends that reviews should instead happen every five years. This would allow the Government to “properly take into account the rapid pace of technological change in the energy sector and the need for significant progress towards meeting our Net Zero target,” the report says.

The documents within the energy NPS that are currently being revised include: EN-1 which is an overarching document setting out the requirements for energy infrastructure; EN-2 relating to fossil fuels; EN-3 relating to renewables; EN-4 for gas supply and gas and oil pipelines; and EN-5 for electricity networks.

EN-6 relating to nuclear energy is not being revised and is therefore not discussed in the Committee’s report.

Further information

Image:  UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock