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National policy for energy infrastructure planning still found wanting

26 January 2011

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the professional body for 23,000 of Britain's planners, has called on ministers to ensure that National Policy Statements (NPSs) for Energy Infrastructure are truly spatial in its submission to the Government's consultation which closes today (Monday 24 January).

Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the RTPI said:

\"The lack of clear spatial guidance means that there is no strategic means of assessing whether there is a need to provide a particular type of infrastructure in a particular place. Decision making at the investment stage will be left entirely to the criteria of the infrastructure providers with little reference to  the competing needs and aspirations of communities and other investors, whose interests will only be identified at the application stage which may be too late.  Part of the purpose of planning policy, including the NPSs, is to provide a context that enables investment decisions to be made on a strategic basis and the draft NPSs do not currently meet this purpose.\"

The RTPI is also critical that the NPSs still fail to draw a clear distinction between what is policy, and what is evidence and practice guidance. This hinders the clarity of the NPSs and effective consideration of key issues, and lessons could be learned from recent Planning Policy Statements (PPSs).

The Institute has also recommended that greater weight should be attached to Welsh national planning policy as they have a working spatial policy for renewable energy which will be undermined if the draft NPSs remains in its current form.

The RTPI's covering letter and response can be read here (pdf, 100kb) and here (pdf, 144kb).