1.1 This report presents an overview of findings from an analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on proposals to revise fees required by the Electricity (Applications for Consent) Regulations 1990 on applications made under sections 36, 36C and 37 of the Electricity Act 1989. The consultation opened on 19 February 2018. The Scottish Government hosted a workshop event for developers on 25 April 2018 to encourage participation in the consultation. Details of the organisations which attended are listed at Appendix 2. Supplementary information was published by the Scottish Government in response to requests on 4 May 2018, whereupon it was also announced that the consultation would close on 28 May 2018, giving consultees an extra two weeks over the closing date initially advised.
The consultation process
1.2 The Scottish Government is proposing to increase the existing application fee tariffs to more accurately reflect the costs of processing each application. The Scottish Government consulted on proposals to revise fees required by the Electricity (Applications for Consent) Regulations 1990 on applications made under sections 36, 36C and 37 of the Electricity Act 1989.
1.3 The consultation document set out proposals for increases to the existing fees, the introduction of new fees for applications under section 36C of the Electricity Act 1989 and the phasing of payments of the application fee at the EIA Scoping stage. The consultation posed 8 questions, with a closed agree / disagree element and also inviting further comment, as follows:
1. Do you agree or disagree the application fees should be revised to maintain and improve our service levels?
2. Do you agree or disagree that we should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed?
3. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal that application fees should be phased in the manner proposed, to spread the risk associated with potentially abortive or unsuccessful application costs?
4. Do you agree or disagree the existing arrangement should continue where the same fee is required for overhead lines exceeding 15km in length whether or not there is EIA development? If you disagree please provide a proposed alternative and expand on this in your answer to question 6.
5. Do you agree or disagree with the introduction of a fee for processing applications for variations of consent, whether for EIA or non-EIA development? If you disagree please provide a proposed alternative and expand on this in your answer to question 6.
6. On balance, do you agree or disagree with the fee levels proposed? If you disagree, please specify which fee in Annex 1 you think should be reconsidered and provide a proposed alternative.
7. Do the proposals in this consultation have any financial, regulatory or resource implications for you and/or your business (if applicable)? If so please explain these.
8. Do you have any other comments?
Overview of written submissions
1.4 The final number of submissions received was 38, including 34 from group respondents and 4 from individuals who appeared to be members of the public with some knowledge of, and interest in, the energy consents process. 26 submissions were made via the consultation website and 12 submissions were made in writing, some of which did not adhere to the template of questions and answers used by the website – for example, not providing a clear response to the closed agree / disagree element but providing written comments neither wholly in clear agreement or disagreement, or raising other issues.
1.5 A profile of respondent types is provided in the following table.
Table 3. Overview of consultation respondents
|Businesses and developers, including:||25||66%|
|Electricity generation developers||23||61%|
|Electricity networks companies||2||5%|
|Business/developer membership organisations||2||5%|
|Planning authorities/other public sector bodies||5||13%|
|Professional firms & consultants||1||3%|
|Group respondents (total)||34||89%|
Figure 1. Breakdown of Consultation Respondents
1.6 Respondents were grouped into seven broad respondent types based on their role – six types for group respondents, and one for individuals. The main points to note about the composition of the groups are:
- Electricity generation developers – 23 respondents representing a diverse range of organisation sizes and types from independent developers to companies owned by some of the "big six".
- Electricity networks companies – 2 respondents comprised of the owners of the licensed electricity transmission and distribution network owners in Scotland.
- Business / developer membership organisations – 2 respondents comprised of Scottish Renewables and Energy UK.
- Planning authorities / other public sector bodies – 5 respondents representing a number of local planning authorities in Scotland and Heads of Planning Scotland, the representative organisation for senior planning officers from Scotland's local authorities, national park authorities and strategic development planning authorities.
- Professional firms and consultants – 1 response from JLL, a professional services firm specialising in real estate services and investment management.
- Political organisations – 1 response from the Conservative group on Scottish Borders Council.
Table 4. Summary of views of respondents
|Q||Agree||Disagree||Unclear / no answer||Respondent types with most widespread agreement||Key comments from respondents who agree||Respondent types with most widespread disagreement||Key comments from respondents who disagree|
|1||22||58||11||29||5||13||Planning authorities / other public bodies, professional firms, political organisations, and individuals||The principle of cost recovery and maintaining and improving the service is supported in principle. Fees levels should be adjusted up or down. The Scottish Government should provide greater detail on improvements to be made to the service. Greater remuneration should be given to planning authorities.||Electricity networks companies||Fee levels too high. Lack of detail on Scottish Government resource costs to understand how the proposed fee levels were arrived at. The Scottish Government should provide greater detail on improvements to be made to the service. Greater remuneration should be given to planning authorities.|
|2||23||61||10||26||5||13||Planning authorities / other public bodies, professional firms, political organisations, and electricity generation companies||A fixed scale on basis of generating capacity or length of line is easier to understand, provides certainty to developers and avoids red line boundaries being manipulated to reduce fees.||Individuals||There should be a sliding scale rather than discrete bands, that fees for variations. Scoping and screening payments are not justified at the levels proposed. There should be different fee levels to encourage larger, more efficient turbines with a lesser environmental footprint.|
|3||22||58||11||29||5||13||Electricity networks companies, business/developer membership organisations, planning authorities / other public sector bodies, political organisations, and individuals||Recognise benefits in phasing of the application fee. Question whether the proportion to be paid at screening or scoping stage is appropriate.||Professional firms and consultants||Developers would face more upfront financial exposure. Early engagement with stakeholders would be discouraged. Fee rebate arrangements should be introduced where applications are withdrawn and resubmitted.|
|4||11||29||9||24||18||47||Planning authorities / other public bodies, political organisations, and individuals||For EIA proposals over 15km, the resource required to provide a response would be unlikely to be less if it were not EIA development. A commensurate share of the fee should go to the local planning authority.||Electricity networks companies, business/developer membership organisations, and professional firms and consultants||The scale, nature and length of the overhead line together would provide a more appropriate basis for fee charging than whether or not a given line requires EIA.|
|5||22||58||7||18||9||24||Planning authorities / other public bodies, political organisations, professional firms and consultants, and individuals||Variation applications require resourcing from the consenting authority. The proposed fee levels are disproportionately high.||Electricity networks companies||The proposed fee levels are disproportionately high. Consideration should be given to two tiers of fees for simple (or non-material) variations and more complex variations.|
|6||27||71||5||13||6||16||Political organisations||The proposed fees are comparable with fees in England and Wales. The Scottish Government should aim for parity with fees charged elsewhere in the UK.||Electricity generation developers, electricity networks companies, business/developer membership organisations, and planning authorities / other public bodies||The proposed fees are disproportionately high. Justification of the proposed increases is weak or insufficient. There would be a negative impact on the renewables development industry and progress to targets. There would be added pressure on consumers' bills. The local planning authority should receive greater remuneration. The fees would not be high enough to cover the costs, particularly if planning authorities were to receive a proportion consistent with the equivalent planning fee.|
|7||32 responded (84%)||Businesses and developers (including electricity generation companies, electricity networks companies, professional firms and consultants) and their membership organisations advised there would be a negative impact on business, jobs and the wider economy, reducing the pipeline of projects under development or deployment, restricting progress to the Scottish Government's energy and climate change targets; limiting scope for community benefit and community ownership; and adding pressure on consumers' bills. Planning authorities and other public sector bodies commented the business and regulatory impact assessment should consider impacts on planning authorities, suggesting that payment of greater remuneration to Local Planning Authorities would allow investment in staff and resources and the building of capacity to deal more effectively and efficiently with such applications. The political organisation added that the proposals discriminate against the local authorities that do much of the work, which would amount to a tax on local authorities by central government.|
|8||23 responded (61%)||Points were made regarding potential service improvements developers would like to see; issues on which clarification was requested; the alignment of the proposals under consideration in this consultation with other planning related work by Scottish Government such as the Planning (Scotland) Bill; reviews of the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy; and, index-linking of fees.|
1.7 The Scottish Government carried out an internal analysis of the responses to the consultation.
1.8 The remainder of this report presents an analysis of all submissions. This includes the balance of views on the "closed" Yes/No question by respondent group, and a summary of key issues raised by written responses. Our analysis has sought to identify key motivations for Yes/No responses, views on specific elements of proposals for increased in planning fees, and any modification or alternatives suggested by respondents. The report also highlights where views or suggestions are specific to one or more respondent types.
1.9 Where respondents responded via the website, their response to the consultation closed question elements (whether affirmative, negative or not answered) is used in tables 5 to 12 and figures 2 to 9 below. Where respondents submitted written responses in formats of their choosing without clear separation of the closed question and written comments, the analysis has interpreted the written comments to establish whether the closed question element was met with agreement, disagreement, not answered or unclear.
1.10 It should be noted that the purpose of the report is to reflect the balance and range of views expressed through the consultation. It does not seek to provide any policy recommendations.
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