This is entry number 177, first published on 18 October 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.

Today's entry reports on the launch of a second round of consultation on energy National Policy Statements.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has launched a second round of consultation on the six energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) this morning. The consultation closes on 24 January 2011.

The changes reported last week after the consultation website inadvertently became visible for a while have come to pass. Here are links to the documents and a summary of the changes. In most cases, the changes to the NPSs reflect updates already made to policies since the first drafts were published in November 2009. The change that made headlines last week, however, the dropping of two of the ten proposed sites for nuclear power stations, is new and is a response to the consultation on the original draft NPSs, so it was a genuine consultation.

The Appraisals of Sustainability have been rewritten to answer the question “what difference would it make to build a new generation of energy infrastructure in accordance with the NPSs?”, rather than making a comparison between implementing the same policies with and without an NPS, as the old appraisals did. More alternatives have also been considered.

Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has announced that the relevant period (for Parliamentary scrutiny) will end on 31 January 2011. According to Parliamentary standing orders, that means that the relevant Select Committee must report to the government by 39 days before that, i.e. 23 December 2010.

He also announced that the government would not be taking forward any of the five schemes for harnessing tidal energy in the Severn Estuary and will not revisiit this issue for at least five years.

Public events will take place in Bristol on the morning of 29 November, Manchester on the afternoon of 30 November, and London on the afternoon of 2 December (not 1 December as previously advised).

General documents

Overarching Energy NPS EN-1

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • the need argument in EN-1 has been updated with the Pathways to 2050 analysis carried out by DECC, which was published on 27 July and can be found here;
  • the need for energy infrastructure has been upgraded from 'significant' to 'urgent';
  • policy on carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been updated to include the proposed four demonstration projects, on which a 'market sounding' was launched on 8 July that is here;
  • assessment of exhaust stacks and cooling towers has been moved to EN-1 from EN-2 and EN-3; and
  • the section on the historic environment has been updated to reflect the updated Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 5.

Fossil fuels NPS EN-2

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • the assessment of exhaust stacks and cooling towers has been moved to EN-1; and
  • water-borne transport is to be preferred over other modes of transporting materials.

Renewables NPS EN-3

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • there is an additional section on biomass sustainability (which may need further updating due to a forthcoming consultation); and
  • an explanation is given as to how offshore windfarms could affect the Green Belt.

Oil and Gas Infrastructure NPS EN-4

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • CO2 pipelines are explicity excluded;
  • there is additional material on the safety of shipping LNG;
  • there is more on the geological assessment of salt caverns for gas storage; and
  • flaring and venting of gas has been added as a new impact to be assessed by project promoters.

Energy Networks NPS EN-5

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • the policy on when lines should be placed underground has been clarified; and
  • there is more information on bird strike.

Nuclear Power NPS EN-6

The relevant documents are here:

The main changes are as follows:

  • two sites have been dropped as suitable for new nuclear power stations - Kirksanton and Braystones in Cumbria;
  • the policy is clarified to say that not all remaining eight sites are necessarily needed;
  • the IPC may consider on-site storage of radioactive waste;
  • there is more information on how applications for sites other than the eight identified will be handled;
  • there is more text on regulatory justification; and
  • some impacts have been removed if they are for the regulator rather than the IPC to consider.

The government has also approved two designs for new nuclear power stations - the AP100 from Westinghouse and an EPR from Areva. There is more too on requirements for decomissioning and on what 'no subsidy for nuclear' means - see this press release.