Low-carbon investment at risk, warn employersUnited Kingdom
The prospect of £150bn of private sector investment in low-carbon infrastructure is receding as the government fails to provide clarity about planning policies, according to the CBI.
Uncertainty about the planning regime was “making investors wary of committing to new energy projects”, the employers’ organisation said in a report entitled No time to lose: deciding Britain’s energy future.
John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI, said: “Uncertainty on plans for electricity market reform, slow progress on clean coal and nuclear power, as well as the cost of renewable energy are adding to the mood of caution among investors. We need investment from companies, not delays from government.”
The government has said it will abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission, replacing it with a Major Infrastructure Unit that would ensure ministers would have the final decisions on key infrastructure.
But the details of how this will work are still unclear. For instance, it is not known who would have the final say on a large energy project such as a nuclear power station or wind farm.
The CBI has set out work it says must be completed by February to spur progress on creating low-carbon infrastructure, including renewable energy, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power and energy efficiency.
Within six months, the CBI urges, ministers should have secured royal assent for legislation on “a coherent structure for major energy infrastructure planning”.
This should require ministers to stick to the strict decision-making timescales set out in the existing Planning Act, which would mean no more than a year to decide on big projects, and that the Department of Energy and Climate Change should have the sign-off on energy projects.
Ministers should also have cleared all previous outstanding planning applications within six months, the CBI said.
Mr Cridland noted that progress on carbon capture and storage had been too slow. A long-delayed competition for public funding to build a CCS demonstration project has been under way since early 2007, but no decision has yet been made.
The CBI wants a winner named within six months and the proposed follow-up competition for another three schemes to be well under way by the same date.
Councils to sell renewable energy
Local authorities are to be allowed to sell renewable electricity to the national grid, resulting in a potential income flow of about £100m a year, according to government estimates, writes Fiona Harvey.
Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, has reversed a ban on local authorities selling renewable energy, effective from August 18.
This will open up the possibility for them to install wind turbines on their land and solar panels on their buildings, offering new sources of income to cash-strapped local authorities.
The government said that only 0.01 per cent of electricity in England was generated by local authorities, a figure that is a 100th of what has been achieved in Germany because of more liberal regulations.
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