Skip to content

News

Britain needs a new Planning Act to unlock growth and deliver its Net Zero ambitions


Press Release19th June 2023

  • New TBI analysis reveals that the UK will not deliver enough renewable generation to deliver clean power until 2062 or even have an electricity grid that is fit for purpose until 2084.

  • TBI proposes a new Planning Act to cut through the local opposition preventing progress, removing the need for a formal public consultation for certain projects of national significance with final consent given by the government and parliament rather than local areas.

  • Changes to planning would enable an immediate and pressing need to power our future growth: A ‘Decade of Electrification’ to create a modern, world-leading energy system that delivers cheap and abundant energy for everyone.

The UK ‘cannot make progress while we put the voices of a few local opponents ahead of desperately needed national infrastructure’, according to The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) in a new report published today as part of its Future of Britain Initiative.

New TBI analysis reveals that the UK will not deliver enough renewable generation to deliver clean power until 2062 or even have an electricity grid that is fit for purpose until 2084. We need to double the capacity of the transmission grid and triple current levels of renewables generation. And we need a planning regime that prioritises that critical effort.

In ‘Building the Future of Britain: A New Model for National Infrastructure Planning’ by Tone Langengen and Jeegar Kakkad,TBI sets out how England’s current planning system for national infrastructure projects is holding England back. They argue that there is a gulf between ambition and reality in Government climate targets caused by adherence to a bloated, bureaucratic and hopelessly inefficient planning system. This means that renewable energy, grid connections and other essential infrastructure projects are delayed not for months but for years. Without fundamental reform Britain’s climate change targets are simply unachievable. Since 2012, when the system was last reformed, the average time it takes to secure consent has increased by 65 per cent, rising to over four years from the previous two and half. This follows a pre-application process that averages two years, but which can take far longer for more complex projects. To tackle local opposition blocking the building of nationally significant infrastructure, TBI proposes a new Planning Act which removes the need for a formal public consultation, with final consent given by the government and parliament rather than local areas.

This bold new model for national-infrastructure planning would cut the time it takes to obtain consent by 80 per cent to just over a year altogether.

TBI Net Zero Lead Tone Langengen said:

“The commitment to local consultation in our planning process is holding the UK back. We cannot make progress while we continue to elevate the needs of a few loud voices over desperately needed national infrastructure. “To meet our climate targets, over the next decade we need to double the capacity of the transmission grid, triple current levels of renewables generation, and build facilities for hydrogen and carbon capture. We have built less than 12 gigawatts (GW) of grid since 2012 and only about 45GW of generation since 2010, which means that the speed of delivery needs to double for renewables and increase almost five-fold for grid infrastructure.

“This will only be possible by moving democratic consent for vital projects of national significance from the local to the national level, sidelining local opposition and delivering a system that accelerates rather than slows progress.”

The new Act would reform National Planning Statements (NPSs) and establish new definitions for and speed up the delivery of new national infrastructure. The new definitions would include digital communications, energy (including onshore wind) and transport.

The Planning Inspectorate would be compelled to approve projects that are named in NPSs in permitted corridors or are” cut and paste” versions of already approved projects within three months.

To demonstrate the way in which a new Planning Act would be the ‘great enabler’ for the UK, TBI has also today published a companion piece to its planning proposals. In ‘Powering the Future of Britain: How to Deliver a Decade of Electrification’ the authors detail how the UK is falling behind on its Net Zero commitments and how planning reform would enable it to radically pick up the pace.

The Decade of Electrification paper includes proposals beyond planning reform, including reforming the Ofgem regulatory regime which currently puts short-term cost savings for customers ahead of the long-term benefits of building out the grid for the future.

Reform should involve allowing the National Grid to assess and prioritise grid-connection applicants and the renewable projects in the queue rather than addressing them on a first-come-first-served basis.

It will also be crucial that the new future system operator (FSO) is set up, independently of Ofgem, with a clear remit to plan the future grid and draw together all areas of government policy that demands grid capacity. The system operator needs to urgently make strategic decisions regarding storage investments to ensure that the renewables development is accompanied by appropriate storage solutions in the right places.

Consideration should also be given to deregulating transmission grid provision and allow companies to build their own transmission lines, as Octopus Energy CEO Greg Jackson recently suggested.

TBI Net Zero lead Tone Langengen said:

“Current Net Zero policies are setting the UK up for failure and risk loss of support and decreased belief in the government’s ability to deliver from the public.

“Our new analysis reveals that on the current trajectory the UK will not deliver enough renewable power to decarbonise the electricity grid until 2062 and the country will not even have an electricity grid that is fit for purpose until 2084.

“The government has not approved a single offshore wind farm since 2017 because of environmental concerns and a Planning Inspectorate unable to make decisions based on outdated National Planning Statements.

“Only with a new Planning Act can we build the infrastructure necessary to double the electricity currently available and meet our Net Zero targets.”

Article Tags


No Tags Found

Newsletter

Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions
Radical Ideas
Practical Solutions