Davey Takes Control Of Cross-Border Energy Projects

Today's entry reports on the choice of a national competent authority for cross-border energy projects.

This sounds rather a boring issue but it does have relevance to the Planning Act regime and meant that the Planning Act was mentioned in Parliament on Monday. You may recall a blog entry from last month that was to do with 'projects of common interest' (PCIs).

PCIs are effectively internationally significant energy projects that straddle the borders of two or more European Union countries. They won't necessarily exceed the thresholds in the Planning Act 2008 but they are likely to. Each member state must eventually set up a process for streamlining the authorisation of such projects that has certain features similar to, but not identical to, the Planning Act regime. They were introduced by a European Union Regulation that came into force earlier this year.

The EU was required to publish the first list of such projects by 30 September, and it managed to do so on 14 October. We love deadlines here, but the rest of the EU don't seem that bothered by them. I am told that traffic lights are compulsory in Milan, a suggestion in Rome, and a decoration in Naples. 24 of the announced PCIs involved the UK, and they are listed in the earlier blog post if you're interested.

The next step was that each member state had to say who would be responsible for the authorisation of PCIs, which had to be done by 16 November. The UK did so on 18 November - well, the 16th was a Saturday - by means of a written statement in Parliament from Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The statement can be found here. As I predicted in my earlier blog post, he has designated himself as the 'national competent authority'. A slightly odd phrasing: 'I am today designating the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as the national competent authority ...', where 'I' and 'the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change' are one and the same person.

What does that mean? Not surprisingly, the government is retaining control of infrastructure project consenting via Mr Davey, who is already the consenting body for projects using the Planning Act 2008 and the Electricity Act 1989. The statement goes on to deal with devolution in some detail, because the Secretary of State does not currently authorise most projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and he will delegate authority to those administrations to preserve the current...

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