United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Top politician laments slow permitting approval process

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British Secretary of State for Business John Hutton has attacked the "snail's pace" site permitting system which is holding up renewable projects. It is unacceptable that it can take ten years from the lodging of an application for a wind farm to energy being delivered to the grid, he said. Today there are 56 wind projects totalling 4 GW that have been stuck in the planning system for over two years, with 3.3 GW of this potential in Scotland alone. "If all these projects had been approved and online we would have saved up to 2.4 million tonnes of CO2 by now, produced electricity equivalent to that used by 2.1 million homes and we would be 25% closer towards our 10% 2010 target," he said. "It's no good saying renewable energy is good in principle but not in practice. Yes, it means difficult, hard choices." Reforms of the planning system set out in the government's Planning White Paper will be key to determining whether the UK has a chance of meeting its 2020 renewable goals, he said. "The planning system must be able to give potential developers confidence that important projects will be treated fairly within a timeframe that properly balances the need for scrutiny with need for predictability." According to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) wind plants that could generate 6% of UK electricity are stuck in the planning system. Renewables supply 4.5% of UK electricity, 1.5% from wind. A further 3.3% will be supplied by wind projects already consented, also offshore, and expected to be operational by 2010. Other renewables are likely to be generating an additional 1%. This leaves a gap of 1.2%, or 1300 MW, that needs consent within the next six months to allow the three years it takes from planning approval to project completion.

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