The trade and industry secretary has published proposals to streamline the planning process for new electricity power plants.
Alistair Darling announced plans on Thursday aimed at reducing the time taken to approve new projects, including low-carbon generation schemes such as wind turbines and wave or tidal power systems.
Darling said that delays, costs and uncertainty have too frequently held back major projects, and that the new “common sense” rules will provide greater efficiency and transparency.
“The current system isn’t good enough,” he said.
“Too often delays and high costs dominate. On average when a planning inquiry is involved, large electricity projects take at least three years to be approved.”
The minister claimed that the changes will be “good for the economy, our energy security and public engagement.
“The measures we are introducing are designed to speed up the process, making it quicker and easier for everyone to participate,” he said.
“We need a significant amount of new investment to keep the lights on, and we want much of it to be low-carbon.
“The country can’t wait for it. We need a system that allows objectors to have their say, but that is also effective.”
First set out in the government energy review released earlier this year, the reforms include specific timeframes for local authorities to object to generation schemes, a new power for inspectors to cut the length of inquiries by insisting summaries of evidence are read out, and holding inquiries in concurrent sessions with a number of inspectors.
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