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BEIS consultation on the treatment of electricity storage within the planning system - Law Society response

28 March 2019

We have responded to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) consultation on proposals regarding the planning system for electricity storage.

BEIS’s policy paper titled ‘Upgrading our energy system: smart systems and flexibility plan’ set out the government’s plan to enable a smart, flexible energy system.

The Progress Update to the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, published in October 2018, stated that as part of this, BEIS would consult on the treatment of electricity storage within the planning system.

This consultation considered two areas that have emerged from the department’s review of the treatment of electricity storage in the planning system:

  • whether the level and unit of the 50MW capacity threshold for non-wind onshore3 generating stations in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime is appropriate for electricity storage, and
  • clarification of how composite projects, consisting of storage and another form of generation, should be treated with regards to the NSIP capacity threshold.

This consultation considered and sought views on proposals to:

  • retain the 50MW Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) threshold that applies to standalone storage projects, and
  • amend the Planning Act 2008 to establish a new NSIP capacity threshold for composite projects including storage and another form of generation, such that a composite project would only fall under the NSIP regime where either the capacity of the storage element is more than 50MW or the capacity excluding any electricity storage is more than 50MW.

Our view

We welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation.

We question some of the assumptions made, particularly that storage is well-known to be within the existing 50MW threshold already.

We find that merely declaring in a call for evidence that the government considers storage to be a form of generation does not settle the matter legally.

We consider that using a 50MW threshold has the benefit of simplicity as it is the same as the existing threshold for non-storage generation.

What this means for solicitors

The proposals will affect solicitors practicing within planning and environmental law, particularly those dealing with the infrastructure planning regime.

Next steps

The consultation closed on Monday 25 March.

Read the consultation on the GOV.uk website