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25 February 2019
The planning system's treatment of electricity storage and co-location is complex, in part because the framework was devised without storage technologies in mind. Whilst storage technologies may be standalone or co-located with other forms of generation, the planning system does not distinguish between the two. As such, if developers propose to develop storage, there are a number of issues that must be considered to ensure that the electricity storage facility is lawfully consented.
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem committed to addressing this issue in the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan (published in July 2017) and its update (published in October 2018) – as we reported on here and here. This week, BEIS launched a consultation on "proposals regarding the planning system for electricity storage" (the Consultation) on the consenting of large scale electricity storage in England. BEIS's proposals provide much needed clarity to the industry.
There are currently a variety of different options for obtaining planning consent for the co-location of electricity storage projects. The scale of a project is a determinative factor in how to approach planning. For example, if the construction or extension of a project has a generating capacity of:
The DCO process is a one stop shop for the consenting of a project and can incorporate additional powers including compulsory purchase powers, but it is more timely and procedurally burdensome that traditional Town and Country Planning including requirements to undertake statutory pre-application consultation.
BEIS previously provided some clarity in confirming that electricity storage projects should be treated as generation. However, there has been a lack of clarity as to how this categorisation applies to projects where generation and storage are co-located. This is due to a lack of clarity as to the definition of a generating station in the planning context, and the thresholds applied in the Planning Act 2008, do not distinguish between standalone projects involving one generating technology and scenarios involving storage and traditional generation.
Under BEIS's proposals:
As a result, providing both of the storage and generation elements of a co-located project remains below 50MW separately, the project can be consented by the local planning authority.
BEIS' proposals provide welcome clarity to the industry, and will require a number of amendments to the Planning Act 2008 to amend and introduce appropriate thresholds.
However, the proposals will only apply to projects in England. In:
Whilst the Consultation is focussed on larger scale electricity storage projects, it provides welcome clarification on smaller scale projects by confirming that:
The deadline for consultation response is 25 March 2019.
For further information on this topic please contact Robin Hutchinson, Robert Garden, Louise Dalton or Leilah Rawle at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP by telephone (+44 20 7367 3000) or email (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP website can be accessed at cms.law.
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