New UK planning process could facilitate new nuclear build

21 May 2007

The UK government has published a new White Paper setting out proposals that will streamline the process for approval of major infrastructure projects, including new power stations.


The white paper -  Planning for a Sustainable Future - proposes reforms on how decisions are taken on nationally significant infrastructure projects, including energy, waste, waste-water and transport. The new planning process is designed to respond to the challenges of economic globalisation and climate change.


The challenge of maintaining the security of energy supplies in the UK is highlighted by the white paper. It notes that investment in about 25-30 GWe of new electricity generation capacity will be required over the next two decades, which is equivalent to around one-third of existing capacity. This significant investment in energy generation infrastructure is seen as providing an opportunity to shift towards " renewable and low-carbon energy."


The white paper also foresees the need to modernise the UK infrastructure by constructing import terminals and storage facilities for liquefied natural gas.


Under the proposals put forward by the white paper, government ministers will have the primary role in setting national policy statements for major infrastructure developments. An independent commission would be established to manage inquiries and determine individual applications for major schemes in England, including all on-shore generation facilities over 50 MWe and off-shore developments over 100 MWe. It would be this independent commission, rather than government ministers, that would make the final decision on approval of major infrastructure projects.


Local consultation would still take place, carried out by the applicant at the pre-application stage and inquiries and decisions would have regard to local considerations. C onsent regimes will be rationalised to eliminate duplication and overlap, and to treat major projects as a whole. There will be a clear framework for statutory rights to challenge at key stages in  the process.


Further information


UK Department of Communities and Local Government


WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper