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New statutory instruments on electricity storage in England and Wales

United Kingdom Publication November 2020

Background

Generally, the development of onshore generating stations requires consent under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990). However, under the Planning Act 2008 (PA 2008), if the generating capacity of the facility exceeds a certain threshold, the consent of the Secretary of State under the nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) regime is required.

Prior to the NSIP regime, consent for such facilities was required under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 (the EA 1989). Section 36 consents are now only relevant where it comes to variations of existing Section 36 consents.

Electricity storage facilities are treated as a form of generating station. As such, electricity storage facilities in England and Wales which exceed a certain generating capacity fall under the NSIP regime and therefore require planning consent from the Secretary of State.

New statutory instruments

Two new statutory instruments have been introduced in England and Wales. The Electricity Storage Facilities (Exemption) (England and Wales) Order 2020 No. 1217 removes the requirement to seek consent for electricity storage under the EA 1989 (except for storage of pumped hydro). Similarly, the Infrastructure Planning (Electricity Storage Facilities) Order 2020 No. 1218 removes the requirement to seek consent for electricity storage under the PA 2008 (except for storage of pumped hydro).

The effect of these statutory instruments is that consent for the development of electricity storage facilities will only require planning consent from the local planning authority under the TCPA 1990 irrespective of the generating capacity.

Reasons for change

The generating capacity threshold which triggered the requirement for consent under the PA 2008 was considered to be distorting the sizing and investment decisions for electricity storage where such storage is considered to have a much lower planning impact (except for the storage of pumped hydro).

The Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan (published in 2017) and the Progress Update to the Plan (published in 2018) set out actions for the government to support the transition to a smarter, more flexible system. These two new statutory instruments are seen to be part of a push to remove barriers to electricity storage and make it simpler for large storage facilities to get planning permission.

Comment

It is expected that businesses could save up to £2 million per year from reduced planning and/or infrastructure costs. There should also be an increase in large scale storage projects leading to higher efficiency and a reduction in the cost of achieving net zero CO2 targets.

Both statutory instruments come into force on December 2, 2020.

Electricity Storage Facilities (Exemption) (England and Wales) Order 2020 No. 1217 -
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1217/pdfs/uksi_20201217_en.pdf

Infrastructure Planning (Electricity Storage Facilities) Order 2020 No. 1218 -
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/1218/pdfs/uksi_20201218_en.pdf



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