Guidance on obtaining development consent for energy infrastructure: onshore power stations.
The Planning Act 2008 dis-applied the provisions of the Electricity Act 1989 in relation to consents for projects in England and Wales except in certain circumstances.
The Secretary of State remains the decision-maker for applications for development consent for energy infrastructure made under the Planning Act 2008.
Potential applicants (including applicants wishing to make material changes to Development Consent Orders) should seek advice from The Planning Inspectorate in the first instance.
Applicants wishing to make non-material changes to Development Consent Orders should seek advice from the Energy Infrastructure Planning team in BEIS in the first instance: BEISEIP@beis.gov.uk.
The department continues to deal with consent applications made under the provisions of section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 that were submitted to it prior to the provisions of the Planning Act 2008 coming into force and which have not yet been determined. In England, onshore power station applications at or below 50 MW and all applications for onshore wind farms are considered by the relevant local planning authority through the Town and Country Planning regime (i.e. the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).
In Wales, developments of National Significance, which include onshore generating stations between 10 MW and 50 MW, are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of Welsh Government.
Applications under the Electricity Act 1989 in Scotland will continue to be managed by the Scottish Government.
Variations of Section 36 Consents
Consents which have been granted by the Secretary of State under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the construction or extension, and operation, of electricity generating stations (section 36 consents) can be varied. The department has published guidance that explains how to lodge an application for variation under the Electricity Generating Stations (Applications for Variation of Consent) Regulations 2013.
By applying to vary a section 36 consent it may be possible to obtain authorisation for a generating station to be constructed, extended and/or operated in a way that would not be consistent with the existing consent. Currently no fees are charged for such applications.
Consultation on variation applications
As part of the Section 36C of the Electricity Act 1989 procedure, the views of the relevant local planning authority, local people, statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency, Natural England / Natural Resources Wales, and other interested parties are considered as part of the decision making process. All onshore applications are routed to the relevant local planning authority and will therefore appear on the local planning register.
Environmental Impact Assessment
The department must consider the environmental consequences of all applications. Key regulations include:
- The Electricity Works (EIA) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017 no. 580
- The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 no. 1012
- The Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 no. 1013
As a public body, the department also has wider duties to promote biodiversity and ensure public participation in its decision-making.
Carbon Capture Readiness
The then DECC published guidance on the government’s policy on carbon capture readiness (CCR) (originally implemented through section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989). The guidance also applies to applications for development consent made to the Planning Inspectorate for generating stations over 50 MW, under the Planning Act 2008. The guidance is relevant to applications for power stations with an electrical generating capacity at or over 300 MW (gross capacity) and of a type covered by the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive and only covers consent applications in England and Wales.
The purpose of the CCR guidance is to ensure these relevant power stations can be retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment at some point in the future when it is technically and economically viable.
Table 1 in the CCR guidance provides an indicative requirement of the amount of space required based on a generating station with 500 MW capacity. Since the publication of the CCR guidance, that requirement has been reviewed by Imperial College, London.
Read their findings:
Assessment of the validity of “Approximate minimum land footprint for some types of CO2 capture plant” provided as a guide to the Environment Agency assessment of Carbon Capture Readiness in DECC’s CCR Guide for Applications under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989
Combined Heat and Power
When submitting generating station proposals, developers need to show they have explored opportunities to use combined heat and power.
The guidance also applies to applications for development consent made to the Planning Inspectorate for generating stations of over 50MW under the Planning Act 2008.