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National energy takes a step into the green age

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By Christopher Appleby
May 28, 2021
National Planning Policy

Since March 2020, our founder, Dale Vince, has been working with George Monbiot and the Good Law Project to get the government to review the UK’s Energy National Policy Statements (Energy NPSs) – this is the country’s national planning policy for energy.

Just over a year later, in April 2021, we got the news we wanted to hear – the government have accepted our argument and a wide-ranging policy review is underway with the potential to do great things for green energy.

Why is national planning policy important?

As well as setting the policy and decision-making framework for all nationally significant energy projects, the NPSs also have a big influence on other energy projects. They’re vitally important because they set the playing field for prioritising and building different types of energy generation.

Up to now, the planning system has been stacked against renewable energy. Right from the start, it was the only energy technology that relied on district councils for planning permission – all other kinds were approved by central government. This made it uniquely vulnerable to local planning decisions. On top of this, the Cameron government changed planning regulations to effectively outlaw onshore wind.

Why did action need to be taken?

The current energy policy was created in 2011 and is outdated. Since then we’ve had the Paris Accord (2016), as well as 2019’s commitment to reach net zero carbon as a country by 2050.

In Article 4 of the Paris Accord we committed ourselves as a country to 'reaching peak fossil emissions as soon as possible and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter’ – something that just isn’t reflected in our current national planning policy for energy.

Instead, we need a forward-thinking policy that helps get us from 33% renewable electricity today to 100% as quickly as possible. Our current policy is holding back new renewables and still allowing new fossil fuel projects to happen. It’s totally at odds with what we need to do to fight the climate crisis.

That’s why we took action, to get the UK government to review the policy in the light of everything that’s happened in the past 10 years.

A great result for green energy

The result of our action is really good news for renewable energy and for faster progress towards a green Britain. As Dale Vince said, when the review was announced:

“We’ve been pursuing the government in respect of National Planning Policy for Energy for about a year now arguing it’s not fit for purpose (since it was written 10 years ago and favours fossil fuels - incredibly)

“And in the last few days we’ve made real progress - in fact I think it’s fair to say we’ve won the argument. 

“A review of energy policy is underway. There’s going to be a wide ranging assessment of potential impacts of proposed new policy, and a public consultation - and all government climate policy, like net zero by 2050 and even Boris Johnson's ten point plan, are in scope, as in they will guide this new planning policy. A fab piece of joined up thinking, at last.

“Meanwhile we’re pressing on with the challenge to National Aviation policy on the same grounds, it’s out of date - and the government have just asked us for 3 more days to give us their answer. 

“I think they will concede this point too, especially given the new position on including UK Aviation emissions in our own carbon targets - finally.

“Lots of good progress it seems, it’s taken some legal pressure to get here, maybe the government would have got here anyway, maybe not. 

“Who cares? Here is where we need to be.”

Read more from Dale on his Facebook page, or at Zerocarbonista.co.uk.

Green energy is winning the argument at every level. Switch to Ecotricity and we’ll use your bill money to invest in new sources of renewable energy and build a greener Britain.

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