Uncertainty on Planning Undermining Energy Investment in the UK

The Confederation of British Industry has called on the UK Government to deliver key energy and planning reforms within six months, or risk undermining emissions targets and energy security. Launching a new report; ‘No time to lose: Deciding Britain’s energy future’, the UK’s leading business group warned that without clarity on Government policy, £150 billion of private sector investment in low-carbon infrastructure would fail to materialise. This investment is essential for the UK to achieve a secure, sustainable and cost-effective energy mix that includes renewable sources, nuclear power and fossil fuels.

The CBI says that uncertainty about the planning regime in particular is making investors wary of committing to new energy projects. The Government has announced it will abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) and replace it with a Major Infrastructure Unit with decision-making powers returned to Ministers.

Among measures the CBI is calling for from the Government by the end of February 2011 are tackling delays in the planning system, speeding up the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and providing more detail on electricity market reform, its renewable energy policy, and the implications of the Emissions Performance Standard.

“The Government’s first few months in office have been rightly dominated by sorting out the fiscal deficit, but it must not let the timetable for energy and planning reform slip any further. Energy companies are unable to get the ball rolling on new infrastructure projects when it is unclear how the future planning regime will work,” comments John Cridland, deputy director-general of the CBI. “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.”

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