Energy companies and battery storage developers in the UK can now bypass the national planning process when developing large scale energy storage projects, thanks to a recent change in the law.
The changes to planning legislation for larger energy storage projects were first announced back in October 2019 to allow planning applications to be determined without going through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process.
And the changes to the Infrastructure Planning (Electricity Storage Facilities) Order 2020 officially passed into law on December 2, 2020.
What do the changes to energy storage planning law mean?
Essentially, the relaxation of the planning rules means that battery storage projects above 50MW in England, and 350MW in Wales can now go ahead without needing to be approved through the national planning regime.
The planning regime previously treated storage projects as ‘energy generation’ where projects over 50MW had to go through the NSIP process, which can add around a year and a half to the project timeline, not to mention increasing planning costs.
How will large storage schemes be determined instead?
It means that most electricity storage projects, with the exception of pumped hydro schemes, can be determined through the Town and Country Planning Act, by local planning authorities.
In effect this means that planning applications for projects over 50MW should, theoretically, be decided in between eight and 13 weeks depending on their size.
What impact is it likely to have on new storage sites?
Previously, many developers sought to limit projects to 50MW to avoid the lengthy NSIP process, which also impacts on generation projects that are to be co-located with the storage.
The change in the law should make it much easier for energy storage schemes to get planning permission, to attract funding more easily, and enable them to be built more quickly.
The recent UK Battery Storage Project Database Report by suggested the UK has more than 13.5GW of battery storage projects in the pipeline.
The government itself estimates that over 100 large scale batteries could now be built thanks to the change, trebling the number already in operation.
How will this affect your development?
For developers, investors and landowners, this is great news, and we would encourage them to speak to their planning consultants and other professional advisors to understand more about how the changes can benefit them.
PWA Planning has a dedicated energy planning team that can provide a wide range of services to providers looking to progress planning applications.