Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Renewable energy rollout and the planning system in England - wind and solar scale-up and grid connection, addressing competing priorities for land use, and options for policy, reform and local decision-making

December 2022

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference discussed priorities for the relationship between planning policy and the development of renewable energy.

It brought together stakeholders with policymakers - in the context of new political leadership in government - to assess the way forward for government strategy on renewables rollout, energy security, and local decision-making.

It took place in the context of changes to the National Planning and Policy Framework due to take place, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Land rights and consents for electricity network infrastructure call for evidence from BEIS, and the Energy Prices Act 2022 receiving Royal Assent - with plans including the power to limit profits made by renewable energy generators.

We expected discussion to focus on options for planning policy reform, competing pressures affecting land use and site allocation, environmental and landscape impacts, as well as community energy projects and grid connection.

Overall, sessions looked at:

  • planning regulation:
    • impact on renewable energy rollout - options for reform such as streamlining consents to support infrastructure rollout in line with renewable policy ambitions
  • grid connection:
    • accelerating progress on newly-installed renewable energy sites - assessing infrastructure needs and impacts on communities
    • opportunities for expansion and reusing assets - tackling hurdles affecting some local authorities 
  • renewable energy scale-up:
    • priorities for increasing rollout and growing capacity - finance - community energy projects
    • how can planning better support ambitions in the Energy Bill for solar and wind - alternative options for soon-to-expire onshore wind and other developments consents  
  • determining land use:
    • options for reconciling dual land purposes, including agriculture and solar - ruling on site allocation - addressing impacts on landscape, food production and other key services
    • the new Environmental Outcome Reports and what they could mean for planning
  • collaboration:
    • opportunities for network companies, landowners, land agents, and local planning authorities
    • the evolving role of local authorities - renewable energy developers - engagement with communities
  • policy and strategic priorities:
    • developing a planning system that meets both climate adaptation and energy security needs - increasing domestic renewable energy supplies
    • implications for planning of levelling up policy with possible greater powers for local authorities

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Jerome Ma, Head of Climate, Planning Policy Division, DLUHC; David Wagstaff, Deputy Director, Energy Infrastructure Planning, BEIS; and Dr Rebecca Windemer, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Planning, UWE Bristol.

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the BEIS; Cabinet Office; DAFM; Defra; DIT; Department for the Economy, NI; DfT; Department for Infrastructure, NI; Department of Finance NI; DAERA, NI; Geospatial Commission; House of Commons Library; Maritime & Coastguard Agency; NIC; Northern Ireland Assembly; NIEA; ORR; ONS; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materials, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda