Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!
オールド全く福島ません

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bircham Dyson Bell blog entry about energy infrastructure


Planning Act 2008 Blog
Angus Walker, Partner
The Planning Act 2008 is one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting major infrastructure projects for many years. The same new procedure will be available for new nuclear power stations, onshore and offshore windfarms, railways, motorways, electricity pylons, and many more high-profile projects.

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This is entry number 190, first published on 24 November 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.
Today's entry reports on the programme for parliamentary scrutiny of the energy and waste water National Policy Statements.

Energy

Six energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) were first published in November 2009, and following consultation and parliamentary scrutiny - and an election - revised versions were published last month (see blog entry).  NPSs set out the need for new infrastructure, and what applicants should assess and the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) should consider when applications are made.
The parliamentary scrutiny in the Commons on the original drafts consisted of consideration by the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, which invited written evidence to be sent to it and held ten evidence-gathering sessions where its members questioned representatives of energy companies, environmental organisations, the IPC and the government on the content of the NPSs, and produced a report of its recommendations. 
Unlike the Transport Select Committee on the Ports NPS, the report did not conclude that the NPSs were not fit for purpose, but nevertheless had some criticisms of them (see blog entry).  One of the main ones was that the 'Appraisals of Sustainability' (AoSs) that had been published alongside the NPSs did not consider alternatives properly.  Although the revised NPSs have not changed a great deal, the AoSs that are published with them have, particularly in how they deal with alternatives.  The number of identified sites for nuclear power stations was also reduced from ten to eight, two in Cumbria being dropped.
Revised NPSs now having been published, the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee has decided that it will only have a single evidence session with a single witness, and does not appear to be inviting written evidence.  Next Tuesday, 30 November, at 4.15 p.m., the committee will hear evidence from Charles Hendry MP, the energy minister (no doubt aided by officials from DECC, and possibly also CLG given the subject-matter). 
Four topics for discussion have been identified by the committee, not all of which relate directly to the NPSs:
  • the implications of changes in the Planning Act 2008 for the implementation of the National Policy Statements;
  • the robustness of transitional arrangements preceding the abolition of the IPC and the creation of the MIPU;
  • the implications of changes to the Appraisals of Sustainability for the assessment of the National Policy Statements; and
  • how the changes in the revised draft National Policy Statements will affect their contribution to the Government’s energy policy objectives.
The first two of these relate to the forthcoming Localism Bill, which was to have been published in time for the committee session, but as we heard on Monday, will now not be.  It will therefore be interesting whether any further information about the changes to the regime will be divulged (and there are also CLG questions tomorrow).
The reduced evidence-taking is likely to be because the NPSs have not changed significantly, but then again the make-up of the committee haschanged significantly since the consideration of the previous drafts.  Only three of the twelve members were in post at the start of this year, which may mean that some issues do get revisited.  The membership is currently (with an * against pre-election members): Tim Yeo (Chair), Dan Byles, Phillip Lee, Christopher Pincher, Laura Sandys (Con), Barry Gardiner, Ian Lavery, Albert Owen, John Robertson*, Alan Whitehead* (Lab) and Sir Robert Smith* (LD).
I will attend the session and hope to report on it shortly thereafter.
The committee then has until 21 December to send its report to the government, being 39 days before the 'relevant date' of 31 January 2011 announced upon the publication of the revised draft NPSs. 
The House of Lords may also consider the revised drafts, but as it doesn't have departmental select committees, it is likely to have a debate in Grand Committee as it did before.  No date has yet been set for this, but it will have to be before 31 January (the 39-day rule only applying in the Commons).
In parallel, there is a public consultation exercise running, which ends on 24 January 2011.  The government asks respondents to concentrate on the changes made to the NPSs and the accompanying documents, rather than seeking to revisit the policies they set out.
Debates on the floor of both Houses are then expected, given the coalition government's pledge to have a Parliamentary vote on NPSs to ratify them.

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