On 18 October 2010, I laid the revised draft energy national policy statements before this House. At the same time, I undertook to present the finalised statements to Parliament for approval.
Having considered the responses to consultation and Parliamentary Scrutiny on the revised draft energy national policy statement, and the outputs of the interim report of the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, on lessons to be learned from events at Fukushima, I am pleased today to be able to present the six energy NPSs for parliamentary approval. This represents a further important milestone in the Coalition Government’s determination to make the UK a truly attractive market for investors, to give us secure, affordable, low-carbon energy. NPSs are critical to the new planning system, which will help developers bring forward energy projects without facing unnecessary hold-ups, while making sure local people get a chance to have their say about how their communities develop, and decisions are made in an accountable way by elected Ministers.
The Energy National Policy Statements therefore form a key part of our plans to move to a low carbon future while protecting the security of the UK’s energy supplies. Business and industry frequently tell us that investment in infrastructure is key to enabling them create the growth and jobs the UK needs. NPSs will provide market certainty by giving developers confidence to bring forward applications to build the infrastructure we need. This will ensure the UK has diverse sources of generation and remains at the forefront of low carbon technological development, and in turn will enable us to generate jobs and growth in this rapidly expanding sector.
NPSs do this by setting out the need for new energy infrastructure, including electricity from a mixed portfolio of all types of generation. They provide a clear framework for decision making on planning applications for major energy infrastructure, protecting local communities from unacceptable impacts while ensuring that “nimbyism” does not get in the way of meeting the national need for energy.
Together, the NPSs set out national policy on a number of key energy policy areas. Five of these cover specific technologies: fossil fuels; renewables; gas supply and gas and oil pipelines; electricity networks; and nuclear. These five sit below an overarching energy NPS, and together they play an important role in the new planning system for major infrastructure. This new system, as proposed by the Localism Bill, retains the consultative approach (both on the NPSs and the consultation of local people in individual applications) and the transparency of the IPC system while increasing democratic accountability through returning the final decision to Ministers.
Parliament has already played a valuable role in scrutinising the revised draft energy NPSs both here and in another place. I would like to thank the Energy and Climate Change Committee for its report, all those who contributed to the debate in this house, and those in another place who also undertook important scrutiny work on the earlier drafts. I am today taking the opportunity to lay before you the Government’s response to Parliament alongside the revised NPSs.
I am today also publishing a Government response to the latest consultation, to which there were over 2,500 responses; a draft of the Post Adoption Statement on the Appraisals of Sustainability which informed the drafting of the NPSs; and the monitoring strategy which sets out how we will monitor the significant environmental effects of implementation of the NPSs.
Copies of all these documents have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and are available at http://www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk.
The House has provisionally set aside time for a debate on these documents before the House of Commons votes on them.
The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.