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Planning Guidance on Energy and Climate

18 July 2011: A leaked version of the Government’s forthcoming draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) has been reported on by Planning journal (you need to register to view the article). The NPPF is scheduled to get its proper release sometime later this month, following an announcement back in December 2010 where Planning Minister Greg Clark stated that Government would undertake a review of planning policy, designed to consolidate policy statements, circulars and guidance documents into a single concise National Planning Policy Framework (the Minister’s statement in the House of Commons gives some further background).

This consolidation was needed, it was argued, as “We have over 1000 pages of policy and guidance that have made the planning system unclear and burdensome. This creates vast amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy that burdens developers and limits the power of local people to shape their neighbourhoods around their vision. The new framework will integrate our current suite of policy statements and guidance into a single concise document. It will focus on the Government’s key priorities for planning and help deliver a more effective, decentralised system.”

Now, just ahead of the 2010 general election, the (previous) Government had released a draft of its new guidance to planning authorities on climate change. This version had significantly evolved and improved on the 2007 version, especially in relation to decentralised energy policy. It’s unclear how much of this will survive in the NPPF – the report on the leaked version summarises guidance on climate and energy issues only as:

Climate change Councils should plan for new development in locations and ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewables Authorities should give significant weight to the environmental, social and economic benefits of renewable or low-carbon energy projects, whatever their scale.

which isn’t that much to go on…. hopefully there will be a lot more in the final NPPF when it’s finally released…

On a related issue, the NPPF will not be covering planning in relation to major infrastructure projects such as power stations. A series of Energy National Policy Statements published by DECC on 23 June 2011 cover these. With their emphasis on – broadly – larger generating plant and associated infrastructure – it’s unclear how much impact the NPSs will directly have with respect to planning rules around new energy developments in London.

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