Without some national direction or targets local authorities are under no obligation to approve planning applications for unpopular renewable energy generation schemes, such as large wind farms or waste to energy schemes.
Sunil Shah, a Partner and Head of Sustainability at DPP says: “For all their faults, RSSs were useful in that they provided the much needed direction on how national targets were to be met and a body of knowledge that often underpinned a local authority’s decision making.
“Developers putting forward an application for renewable energy generation schemes would often be able to argue successfully that such a scheme is needed if regional targets were to be met. By scrapping RSSs and leaving decisions purely in the hands of local authorities it is difficult to see many schemes ever being approved. Local authorities are likely to bow to pressure of local communities who generally do not want to see such schemes on their doorstep.”
RSSs were loved and loathed in equal measures. The North East, for example, generally viewed them as delivering jobs and investment, whereas in the South East they were often seen as a mechanism to promote development against local council wishes.
Sunil adds: “The Government is going to have to move quickly to ensure that its commitment to meeting tough EU renewable energy targets is met. A mechanism to remove the local politics from decision making on such an emotive subject is necessary, and that unfortunately means some kind of regional target.
“The government in pursuing this populist policy could find itself lagging behind in meeting its renewable targets and losing a valuable body of knowledge.”