Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, confirmed yesterday that the long awaited Energy Bill will be published next month.

Speaking at a CBI event yesterday on the subject of energy market reform, Davey set out details on how the bill will improve investor certainty for clean energy projects. He also addressed the issue of ‘unnecessary red tape’ around consenting for new developments, stating “the changes we will make will mean that developers wishing to apply for changes to their projects Section 36 consents will in most cases need to undertake only a 3 month consultation on those changes”.

This is a very welcome change and long overdue. Without it, and to date, developers wishing to alter the terms of a consent had to make a fresh Section 36 application. That was bad enough under Section 36, but the consequences are now (in England and Wales) that a Development Consent Order will be required under Planning Act 2008, involving a very expensive and lengthy pre-application process. The change required could be for as little as an increase in the height of the consented turbines. Developers have always been able to vary the terms of the deemed planning permission issued with Section 36 consents, but provisions relating to the content of the development have historically been within the Section 36 consent itself, and hence the difficulty. Therefore this change is much more significant than might at first appear. In Scotland the benefits of the change will still of course be under Section 36.