The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee is to carry out an inquiry into the revised energy National Policy Statements (NPS). The current suite of energy National Policy Statements were designated by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2011. The revised energy NPS were tabled by the Government on 20 September 2021 (HCWS295). They set out the Government’s policy for the delivery of energy infrastructure and provide the legal framework for planning decisions in key energy policy areas: fossil fuels (EN-2); renewables (EN-3); gas supply and gas and oil pipelines (EN-4); electricity networks (EN-5); and nuclear (EN-6). They each sit below an overarching energy NPS (EN-1) which sets out the need for new energy infrastructure.
The Government announced a review of the current suite of energy National Policy Statements (NPS) in the Energy White Paper: Powering our net zero future in December 2020.
The Government launched a public consultation on the draft revised energy National Policy Statements, supporting habitats and sustainability reports and associated appendices on 6 September 2021. This is a separate process to the Select Committee’s inquiry and is closing on 29 November 2021.
The Government’s Energy White Paper set a long-term strategic vision for the energy system, consistent with net zero emissions by 2050. The White Paper establishes a goal of moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy and the Government reviewed all the National Policy Statements for energy infrastructure and determined that EN-1 to EN-5 documents should be amended to reflect the policies set out in the White Paper and support the investment required to build the infrastructure needed for transition to net zero. A review of EN-6 concluded that it will not be amended and therefore it does not form part of the Government’s consultation or this inquiry.
The NPS has effect for the decisions by the Secretary of State on applications for energy developments that are nationally significant under the Planning Act 2008. For such applications this NPS, combined with any technology specific energy NPS where relevant, provides the primary policy for decisions by the Secretary of State. Under the Planning Act 2008 the Secretary of State must also have regard to any local impact report submitted by a relevant local authority, any relevant matters prescribed in regulations, the Marine Policy Statement (MPS) and any applicable Marine Plan, and any other matters which the Secretary of State thinks are both important and relevant to the planning decision.
The NPS must receive Parliamentary approval before new major energy infrastructure can be delivered. The Secretary of State will decide all applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects in England and Wales, adjacent territorial waters and the offshore Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) (except any part in relation to which Scottish Ministers have functions). In Northern Ireland, planning consent for all nationally significant infrastructure projects is devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive.