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02 July 2010

Renewables industry urges planning body to fix broken system

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Renewables industry cautiously optimistic about new ministerial planning unit, but warns system needs urgent streamlining

The renewables industry has offered a cautious welcome to the government's decision this week to replace the independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) with a ministerial-led Major Infrastructure Planning Unit (MIPU), but experts warned low carbon investment could be curtailed if the new body fails to address current planning delays.

Earlier this week, decentralisation minister Greg Clark said the government would axe the IPC and replace it with the MIPU, arguing the new body would be more democratically accountable when making planning decisions about major infrastructure projects, such as large scale offshore wind farms and biomass power plants.

The MIPU, which will be based in the Planning Inspectorate, will require ministers rather than unelected officials to make the final decision on projects.

Clark also committed to press on with the previous government’s Draft National Policy Statements (DNPS), which were intended to inform decisions taken by the IPC. He said further details on how DNPS will be affect decisions taken by the new body will be released in the summer.

Businesses were divided over the decision, with some welcoming the fact that minsiters will have the final decision on major projects and others warning that political considerations could further delay planning processes and hamper the development of renewable energy projects.


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