Publication - Consultation analysis

Fees charged for applications under the Electricity Act 1989: analysis of consultation responses

Published: 4 Jan 2019
Directorate:
Energy and Climate Change Directorate
Part of:
Energy
ISBN:
9781787815001

Analysis of responses to our consultation on proposals to revise fees paid for applications under the Electricity Act 1989.

30 page PDF

689.0 kB

30 page PDF

689.0 kB

Contents
Fees charged for applications under the Electricity Act 1989: analysis of consultation responses
2. Respondents Views On Proposed Changes To Fees

30 page PDF

689.0 kB

2. Respondents Views On Proposed Changes To Fees

2.1 This section provides a summary of respondents views on the proposed changes to energy consents fees. This includes views on the proposed changes to existing fees, the fixed fee structure, the phasing of payments, fees for overhead lines around the 15km threshold, the introduction of fees variations, the fee levels proposed, and the financial, regulatory or resource implications for businesses for issues raised by those in favour of or opposed to the proposals, comments and alternative suggestions for the proposed fee structure and its implementation, and views on improving performance in the energy consents process.

Question 1. Extent of agreement / disagreement on whether application fees should be revised to maintain and improve energy consents service levels

2.2 A total of 33 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on whether application fees should be revised to maintain and improve energy consents service levels. 22 respondents agreed and 11 disagreed.

  • 12 electricity generation developers agreed and 9 disagreed.
  • 1 electricity networks company agreed and 1 disagreed.
  • All 5 Planning authorities / other public sector bodies agreed.
  • The professional firm agreed.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 2 individuals agreed and 1 disagreed.

2.3 The respondent types showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q1 were planning authorities / other public bodies, professional firms, political organisations, and individuals.

2.4 The respondent types showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q1 were electricity networks companies and business/developer membership organisations.

Table 5. Do you agree or disagree the application fees should be revised to maintain and improve our service levels?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 13 10 2 25
Electricity generation developers 12 9 2 23
Electricity networks companies 1 1 0 2
Business/developer membership organisations 0 0 2 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 5 0 0 5
Professional firms & consultants 1 0 0 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 20 10 4 34
Individuals 2 1 1 4
Total 22 11 5 38

Figure 2. Do you agree or disagree the application fees should be revised to maintain and improve our service levels?

Figure 2. Do you agree or disagree the application fees should be revised to maintain and improve our service levels?

2.5 36 respondents (including 4 who did not answer the closed question) provided written comments as part of their consultation response. Respondents made a broad range of points relating to the proposed revision of application fees, including detail on perceived issues with the current system, and suggested amendments or alternatives to the proposals. Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (17)
  • There is a lack of detail of service improvements which would be delivered / more details would be helpful (15)
  • Service improvements should be made to provide greater certainty around timely determination (11)
  • Justification of the proposed increases is weak or insufficient (9)
  • Planning authorities should receive greater remuneration (8)
  • There would be a negative impact on the development pipeline / deployment / progress to targets (8)
  • Service agreements or fixed timelines for determination should be introduced (6)
  • More information on Energy Consents Unit/Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team resource requirements is needed (4)
  • Implementation should be delayed / there should be a grace period (2)
  • The proposed fees would be too low (1)
  • The proposed scoping payments would be disproportionately high (1)
  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (1)
  • Greater scoping out of non-significant effects would improve the service (1)
  • The Energy Consents Unit/Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team should challenge consultees responses and proposed conditions more (1)
  • Variation fees should be substantially lower than applications (1)
  • There should be a second consultation on revised proposals (1)
  • Further cost reduction should be explored by the Energy Consents Unit/Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team (1)
  • These substantial increases would be contrary to the policy support in the Energy Strategy / Onshore Wind Policy Statement (1)
  • Small scale grid connection costs could increase 2 or 3 times / consumers would face impacts (1)

Question 2: Extent of agreement / disagreement on whether the Scottish Government should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed

2.6 A total of 33 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on whether the Scottish Government should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed. 23 respondents agreed and 10 disagreed.

  • 13 electricity generation developers agreed and 7 disagreed.
  • 1 electricity networks company agreed and 1 disagreed.
  • 1 Business / developer membership organisation agreed.
  • All 5 Planning authorities / other public sector bodies agreed.
  • The professional firm agreed.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 1 individual agreed and 2 disagreed.

2.7 The respondent types showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q2 were planning authorities / other public bodies, professional firms, political organisations, and electricity generation companies.

2.8 The respondent type showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q2 was individuals.

Table 6. Do you agree or disagree that we should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 14 8 3 25
Electricity generation developers 13 7 3 23
Electricity networks companies 1 1 0 2
Business/developer membership organisations 1 0 1 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 5 0 0 5
Professional firms & consultants 1 0 0 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 22 8 4 34
Individuals 1 2 1 4
Total 23 10 5 38

Figure 3. Do you agree or disagree that we should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed?

Figure 3. Do you agree or disagree that we should continue to have a fixed fee structure as proposed?

2.9 Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (11)
  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (4)
  • Service agreements or fixed timelines for determination should be introduced (4)
  • Justification of the proposed increases is weak or insufficient (3)
  • The proposed scoping payments would be disproportionately high (2)
  • Greater scoping out of non-significant effects would improve the service (2)
  • Variation fees should be substantially lower than applications (2)
  • There is a lack of detail of service improvements which would be delivered / more details would be helpful (1)
  • Service improvements should be made to provide greater certainty around timely determination (1)
  • An optional additional fee to 'fast track' projects should be considered (1)
  • There should be two or more tiers of variation fee (1)
  • There should be a second consultation on revised proposals (1)
  • More information on Energy Consents Unit/Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team resource requirements is needed (1)
  • These substantial increases would be contrary to the policy support in the Energy Strategy / Onshore Wind Policy Statement (1)

Question 3: Extent of agreement / disagreement on whether application fees should be phased in the manner proposed, to spread the risk associated with potentially abortive or unsuccessful application costs

2.10 A total of 33 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on whether application fees should be phased in the manner proposed, to spread the risk associated with potentially abortive or unsuccessful application costs. 22 respondents agreed and 11 disagreed.

  • 11 electricity generation developers agreed and 9 disagreed.
  • The 2 electricity networks companies both agreed.
  • The 2 business / developer membership organisations both agreed.
  • 4 Planning authorities / other public sector bodies agreed.
  • The professional firm disagreed.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 2 individuals agreed and 1 disagreed.

2.11 The respondent types showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q3 were electricity networks companies, business/developer membership organisations, planning authorities / other public sector bodies, political organisations and individuals.

2.12 The respondent types showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q3 were professional firms and consultants.

Table 7. 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?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 13 9 3 25
Electricity generation developers 11 9 3 23
Electricity networks companies 2 0 0 2
Business/developer membership organisations 2 0 0 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 4 0 1 5
Professional firms & consultants 0 1 0 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 20 10 4 34
Individuals 2 1 1 4
Total 22 11 5 38

Figure 4. 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?

Figure 4. 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?

2.13 Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • The proposed scoping payments would be disproportionately high (16)
  • Should consider further phasing of payments (8)
  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (4)
  • Service agreements or fixed timelines for determination should be introduced (4)
  • There is a lack of detail of service improvements which would be delivered / more details would be helpful (3)
  • Planning authorities should receive greater remuneration (3)
  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (2)
  • Service improvements should be made to provide greater certainty around timely determination (2)
  • Greater scoping out of non-significant effects would improve the service (2)
  • There would be a negative impact on the development pipeline / deployment / progress to targets (1)

Question 4: Extent of agreement / disagreement on whether 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

2.14 A total of 20 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on whether 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. 11 respondents agreed and 9 disagreed.

  • 7 electricity generation developers disagreed and 2 agreed.
  • The 2 electricity networks companies both disagreed.
  • 1 Business / developer membership organisation disagreed.
  • All 5 planning authorities / other public sector bodies agreed.
  • The professional firm disagreed.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 3 individuals agreed.

2.15 The respondent types showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q4 were planning authorities / other public bodies, political organisations, and individuals.

2.16 The respondent types showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q4 were electricity networks companies, business/developer membership organisations, and professional firms and consultants.

Table 8. 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?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 2 7 16 25
Electricity generation developers 2 5 16 23
Electricity networks companies 0 2 0 2
Business/developer membership organisations 0 1 1 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 5 0 0 5
Professional firms & consultants 0 1 0 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 8 9 17 34
Individuals 3 0 1 4
Total 11 9 18 38

Figure 5. 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?

Figure 5. 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?

2.17 Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (7)
  • Planning authorities should receive greater remuneration (4)
  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (1)
  • There is a lack of detail of service improvements which would be delivered / more details would be helpful (1)
  • Service improvements should be made to provide greater certainty around timely determination (1)
  • Service agreements or fixed timelines for determination should be introduced (1)
  • Justification of the proposed increases is weak or insufficient (1)

Question 5: Extent of agreement / disagreement on the introduction of a fee for processing applications for variations of consent, whether for EIA or non-EIA development

2.18 A total of 29 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on the introduction of a fee for processing applications for variations of consent, whether for EIA or non-EIA development. 22 respondents agreed and 7 disagreed.

  • 12 electricity generation developers agreed and 6 disagreed.
  • 1 electricity networks company disagreed.
  • 1 Business / developer membership organisation agreed.
  • 4 Planning authorities / other public sector bodies agreed.
  • The professional firm agreed.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 3 individuals agreed.

2.19 The respondent types showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q5 were planning authorities / other public bodies, political organisations, professional firms and consultants, and individuals.

2.20 The respondent type showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q5 was electricity networks companies.

Table 9. 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?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 12 7 6 25
Electricity generation developers 12 6 5 23
Electricity networks companies 0 1 1 2
Business/developer membership organisations 1 0 1 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 4 0 1 5
Professional firms & consultants 1 0 0 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 19 7 8 34
Individuals 3 0 1 4
Total 22 7 9 38

Figure 6. 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?

Figure 6. 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?

2.21 Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • Variation fees should be substantially lower than applications (20)
  • There should be two or more tiers of variation fee (7)
  • Planning authorities should receive greater remuneration (4)
  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (1)
  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (1)

Question 6: Extent of agreement / disagreement with the fee levels proposed

2.22 A total of 32 respondents answered the "closed" consultation question on the fee levels proposed. 27 respondents disagreed and 5 agreed.

  • 20 electricity generation developers disagreed.
  • The 2 electricity networks companies both disagreed.
  • 1 Business / developer membership organisation disagreed.
  • 3 Planning authorities / other public sector bodies disagreed and 2 agreed.
  • The professional firm did not clearly agree or disagree.
  • The political organisation agreed.
  • 2 individuals agreed and 1 disagreed.

2.23 The respondent types showing most widespread disagreement with the proposal in Q6 were electricity generation developers, electricity networks companies, business / developer membership organisations, and planning authorities / other public bodies.

2.24 The respondent type showing most widespread agreement with the proposal in Q6 was political organisations.

Table 10. On balance, do you agree or disagree with the fee levels proposed?

Group Type Agree Disagree Unclear / no response Total
Businesses and developers, including: 0 22 3 25
Electricity generation developers 0 20 3 23
Electricity networks companies 0 2 0 2
Business/developer membership organisations 0 1 1 2
Planning authorities/other public sector bodies 2 3 0 5
Professional firms & consultants 0 0 1 1
Political organisations 1 0 0 1
Group respondents (total) 3 26 5 34
Individuals 2 1 1 4
Total 5 27 6 38

Figure 7. On balance, do you agree or disagree with the fee levels proposed?

Figure 7. On balance, do you agree or disagree with the fee levels proposed?

2.25 Below is a summary of points raised by respondents, listed in descending order of number of respondents raising each point. The number in brackets next to each indicates the number of respondents making the point in response to this question. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • The proposed fees would be disproportionately high (22)
  • Justification of the proposed increases is weak or insufficient (15)
  • There would be a negative impact on the development pipeline / deployment / progress to targets (10)
  • More information on Energy Consents Unit/Marine Scotland Licensing and Operations Team resource requirements is needed (8)
  • The fee categories and bands should be reconsidered (6)
  • The proposed fees would be too low (4)
  • Planning authorities should receive greater remuneration (4)
  • The proposed scoping payments would be disproportionately high (3)
  • There is a lack of detail of service improvements which would be delivered / more details would be helpful (2)
  • Variation fees should be substantially lower than applications (2)
  • These substantial increases would be contrary to the policy support in the Energy Strategy / Onshore Wind Policy Statement (2)
  • Implementation should be delayed / there should be a grace period (2)
  • Should consider further phasing of payments (1)
  • Service improvements should be made to provide greater certainty around timely determination (1)
  • Small scale grid connection costs could increase 2 or 3 times / consumers would face impacts (1)
  • There would be negative impacts on community benefit and / or community ownership (1)
  • the Scottish Government should come forward with proposals to significantly reduce Marine Licence fees for Section 36 projects which are classed as EIA development (1)

Question 7: Extent of any financial, regulatory or resource implications for businesses

2.26 A total of 32 respondents addressed this question in their response.

Electricity generation developers

2.27 A theme common to the 23 responses from electricity generation developers was that, in general terms, there would be a substantial increase in application costs which could have a negative impact on the pipeline of projects under development, deployment, and / or progress to the Scottish Government's targets.

2.28 While most (18) of the responses the potential impacts on their business in qualitative terms, 5 of the 23 electricity generation developers provided some analysis within which they quantified the possible impacts on their business. One developer commented the proposals would result in an approximately 50 percent increase in onshore wind farm development costs. A second developer estimated the proposals would increase the levelised cost of onshore wind energy by 4 to 8 pence per megawatt hour, in the context of the approximate figure of £45 per megawatt hour for all aspects of development, construction, operation, and decommissioning which developers would need to meet, as a minimum, for projects to breakeven. A third developer commented that the proposed increased application fee would make up approximately between 20 percent and 25 percent of the total development costs of a project, and bring down the number of projects it could work on by 20 percent. A fourth developer comment the proposed fees would effectively double the cost of producing an EIA for a project. A fifth developer commented the proposed increases would increase the development costs of one of its large projects by 25 percent.

Electricity networks companies

2.29 Both the electricity networks companies commented that the partial BRIA should also consider the substantial impact the proposals would have on bill payers and connection customers, highlighting that new connections for sole use customers (such as individual households in rural areas, agricultural businesses, small to medium manufacturing businesses or house builders) would be particularly affected by the significant increases proposed.

2.30 One company also explained that projects which have shared infrastructure required by multiple developers would also be affected, with the result that fee increases would, in effect, be borne by the electricity consumer. The company also referred to the 119 requests for new or re-built distribution lines it received in 2017, and compared existing and proposed fees, noting the factor by which the proposed fee levels increased over the existing levels.

Business/developer membership organisations

2.31 One of the business/developer membership organisations commented that the proposed scale of increase in fees for consents may prevent some developers taking projects to completion. It said it is also concerned that the scale of the fees for the distribution and transmission networks will impact on generators as network operators pass the costs onto their customers and in turn to consumers.

Planning authorities/other public sector bodies

2.32 3 of the 5 planning authorities/other public sector bodies respondents commented that the BRIA does not adequately cover the impacts on Local Planning Authorities and is focussed too narrowly on the impacts on applicants/developers, highlighting that payment of a fair portion of the increased fees 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.

2.33 One of the planning authorities suggested carrying out a review of costs associated with work by planning authorities in respect of screening scoping and fee rates for work associated with section 36 and 37 application proposals, adding that allocation of funds from the Local Authority Settlement to cover such costs would be contrary to the objective of full cost recovery for all public services.

Professional firms and consultants

2.34 The respondent in the professional firms and consultants category gave the opinion that the proposals were likely to affect the future of the renewables industry by making it more likely that parts of the industry will elect to progress developments under the Town and Country Planning Acts at a reduced capacity from the projects potential capacity, and benefit from a more certain consenting regime (considering statutory timescales and the right of appeal) that would have lower application costs. The respondent stated that projects would produce a reduced renewables capacity as a consequence and in turn this could affect the number of jobs supported by the industry, as well as placing more resource pressure on the Scottish Government department for Planning and Environmental Appeals.

Political organisations

2.35 The respondent in this category commented that the proposals discriminate against the local authorities that do much of the work, adding that this amounts to a tax on local authorities by central government.

Individuals

2.36 One of the individuals (based in one the planning authorities) commented the staged fee would result in a greater number of S36 applications which in turn will increase the burden on local planning authorities who do not receive any fee to assess and respond to the consultation response.

2.37 The remaining individuals did not supply any comments in answer to question 7.

Summary of points raised in the responses to question 7

  • There would be a negative impact on the development pipeline / deployment / progress to targets (17)
  • The planning authority should receive greater remuneration (6)
  • The Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment within the consultation is insufficient (5)
  • Impacts would also be faced by consumers and grid connection customers (3)
  • Fee increases are contrary to the policy support set out in the Energy Strategy / Onshore Wind Policy Statement (2)
  • Cost reduction in the consents process should be explored by the Scottish Government (2)
  • There would be negative impacts on community benefit and / or community ownership (1)

Contact

Email: Energy Consents Unit