NuGen Properties

Climate Change Committee calls for planning reform


The report, Delivering a decarbonised power system*, sets out what is needed in the energy sector to achieve the government’s net zero goals, with 25 new recommendations to improve the prospects of delivery.

Recommendations include developing a long-term strategy to adapt and build infrastructure for the distribution of liquid and gaseous fuels, electricity, CO2 and heat networks over the next decade.

It says: “A number of processes – including planning, consenting and connections – must be urgently reformed to deploy infrastructure at sufficient speed to deliver the required range of system components by 2035. Infrastructure build rates, both for generation and network capacity, will need to exceed what has been achieved historically in a number of areas and represent large increases relative to today.”

The Climate Change Committee says that, beyond the government’s existing energy security strategy commitments to renewables and nuclear, the UK we needs:

  • New low-carbon back-up generation, with hydrogen-based power stations and some continued use of fossil gas, made low-carbon through use of carbon capture and storage.
  • Smart shifting of consumer demand, to help to smooth peaks in demand and absorb excess supply, especially through controlled timing of electric vehicle charging and use of heat pumps.
  • New storage solutions, beyond simply the use of batteries. Most critical is the use of surplus generation to produce hydrogen through electrolysis (‘green hydrogen’), providing long-term storage so it can later be used to generate electricity.

Lord Deben (formerly John Gummer), chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said: “For 15 years, the Climate Change Committee’s main recommendation has been to decarbonise British electricity. The offer of cheap, decarbonised electricity for every consumer and business is now within reach, thanks to pioneering efforts to develop renewables.

“Now there is more at stake. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought home the fundamental importance of energy security. A reliable energy system based mainly on UK’s plentiful renewable resources now has new significance.

“We know how to do this, but government is asleep at the wheel. Recent commitments for new nuclear and renewables are welcome, but these alone are insufficient. A rapid overhaul of the planning system and regulations is needed. It is not clear where the responsibility lies for the design and operations of our modern energy system rests among key organisations.

“Countries around the world are now racing for this goal. The UK is further ahead than most, but we risk losing our early lead at the worst possible time.”

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech described the report as “a clear wake-up call to the government”.

She said: ““The BPF has already called on the chancellor to take action to enable and incentivise businesses and  individuals to play their part and the government must also act now. The modernisation and decarbonisation of the UK’s energy infrastructure is one of the fundamental challenges facing the property sector in delivering the greener homes and workspaces the country needs. Indeed, BPF research has highlighted grid decarbonisation and increasing grid capacity as some of the most important actions that Government can take to drive the transition to net zero carbon.

“The committee is also right to flag the role of the planning system in inhibiting or incentivising carbon reduction. We look forward to working with the committee to develop further thinking on how the planning system should be reformed to accelerate the pace of change, which is critical if we are to achieve our net zero targets.”

* The report is available to download at www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Delivering-a-reliable-decarbonised-power-system.pdf

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