The draft NPS for Gas Supply Infrastructure and Gas and Oil Pipelines (EN-4) provides the basis (together with the overarching NPS for energy) upon which decisions will be made by the IPC on applications for specific nationally significant gas and oil infrastructure projects. It sets out factors which will be relevant to the IPC in relation to each category of oil/gas infrastructure covered by it. However, the responsibility for decision making in this area will not always fall to the IPC. It will vary across England, Wales and Scotland and also between onshore and offshore. This Alert focuses on the proposed regime in England; please contact us if you would like to receive information about the regime in Wales and/or Scotland.

The following infrastructure projects are covered by EN-4:  

  • Underground gas storage and LNG facilities with either:  
    • expected storage capacity of at least 43 million standard cubic metres of gas; or  
    • a projected delivery flow rate of at least 4.5 million standard cubic metres of gas per day.  
  • Gas reception facilities with a projected maximum flow rate of at least 4.5 million standard cubic metres of gas per day. Note there is no capacity test for this type of project.  
  • Gas transporter pipelines which are expected:  
    • to be more than 800mm in diameter and more than 40 kilometres in length or which are likely to have a significant effect on the environment;  
    • to have a design operating pressure of over 7 bar; and  
    • to convey gas to at least 50,000 potential customers.  
  • Cross-country pipelines over 16.093 kilometres (10 miles) long which would otherwise require a pipeline construction authorisation under section 1 of the Pipe-lines Act 1962.

RPC comments

It is interesting that there were only two mentions of gas and no reference to the oil industry at all when Ed Miliband introduced the six draft energy NPSs to the House of Commons on 9 November 2009. However, EN-4 confirms that the efficient import, storage and transmission of natural gas and oil products is crucial to the meeting of the UK's future energy needs during the transition to a low-carbon economy. It should also be noted that pipelines are the only Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project in the Planning Act where development in Scotland is within the scope of the Act – so long as one end is in England or Wales and it is an oil or gas crosscountry pipeline.