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Electricity Act 1989 applications - proposed fee changes: consultation analysis

Our analysis of the consultation responses received on the proposals to increase the fees paid for applications under the Electricity Act 1989.


3. Other Issues Raised By Respondents

Other points raised by respondents, either in the 17 direct responses to Question 4, which asked "do you have any other comments", or elsewhere in their responses beyond the scope of the foregoing questions, include the following. They are 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. It should be noted that some respondents repeated the same point across responses to more than one question.

  • legislation should be amended to increase the threshold for projects requiring section 36 consents rather than the threshold remaining at 50MW, so that a greater proportion of applications are processed as planning applications and dealt with by planning authorities. (6)
  • increased fees should result in improvements to the consenting service and timeframes/there should be clear goals or key performance indicators set on improvements (5)
  • further information is required to justify the magnitude of the proposed fee increases (3)
  • a separate fund could be established to support planning authorities, and perhaps community groups, to take part in public inquiries (3)
  • the fees paid to planning authorities should be used to contribute towards improving the planning authorities' role in the energy consenting regime and should be tied to the performance of each planning authority (3)
  • there should be further clarity on what improvements can be expected from the energy consenting regime if fees are to increase (2)
  • planning authorities that play a statutory consultee role in applications are underfunded (2)
  • the frequency of changes to fees should be minimised, to provide businesses with certainty and stability, avoiding unintended consequences on investment confidence (2)
  • there should be a transparent approach to redistributing any increased fees to statutory consultees (2)
  • proposal to pay reduced fee for a standard assessment which covers specific development design and a higher fee for a Rochdale envelope approach (2)
  • there should be an arrangement in place for planning authorities to receive a proportion of the fees for offshore developments (2)
  • the proposed fees are another cost to the renewables industry following fee rises in 2019, the loss of relief on rates, and the removal of market support, all of which discourage investment in new generating projects and threaten the Scottish Government's renewable energy targets (1)
  • the timing of the proposed fee increases is surprising when the onshore wind energy industry is expected to deliver a significant increase in generation capacity in the coming years (1)
  • a further increase in development costs will hinder the industry's capability to deliver projects at a time when assistance is needed (1)
  • failure of certain planning authorities to respond on applications has resulted in significant delays. There should be clarity on how increased fees will assist planning authorities to deliver timely responses (1)
  • it would be useful to understand whether the proportion of fees allocated to planning authorities in July 2019 – July 2021 has supported their capacity to efficiently and judiciously respond to planning applications consistent with target timescales (1)
  • the Scottish Government should explore the establishment of an internal team of landscape architects to take responsibility for parts of the assessment currently undertaken by planning authorities/NatureScot to speed up determinations (1)
  • there is a risk of onshore wind and other onshore renewable technologies losing out in terms of Scottish Government resource and training to offshore developments due to Scotwind (1)
  • any changes to fees should result in improved resourcing at consultee level – the funds should be ring-fenced so that statutory consultees can draw on additional fees to increase resourcing (1)
  • query as to why there is a distinction between projects requiring EIA and those not requiring EIA in relation to fees on the basis that this approach is arbitrary (1)
  • the proposed fee changes discourage hybrid sites - the fee structure as proposed will increase the number of individual, non-hybrid sites being brought to local planning authorities, increasing the burden on planning authorities (1)
  • there should be a sliding scale of fees for solar – planning fees for solar are capped at £25,000 but for those over 50MW there are substantial increases (1)
  • there are discrepancies in the data in the Fee Monitoring Report accompanying the consultation (1)
  • the new fees will still not cover the costs needed to fund the Energy Consents Unit and Marine Scotland (1)
  • fee rises are not the sole solution and will not resolve the shortfall in in Energy Consents Unit income (1)
  • if fee increases are to be implemented, fee payment stages should be introduced (1)
  • making a distinction between EIA and non-EIA projects is welcome and this should be recognised in future changes to fees for planning applications (1)
  • there should be a plan-led approach to energy through a national energy plan including a sectoral plan for onshore wind (1)
  • the proposed National Planning Framework 4 may also bring into the realm of development management increased scrutiny over policy matters such as decarbonisation, zero waste, health and wellbeing etc. If such specialisms become imbedded in the section 36 process, additional expertise at planning authorities will have to be resourced and funded (1)
  • there are increasing numbers of onshore wind proposals with nationally important scheduled monuments within the development site boundary and the increasing height of modern wind turbines means that there is the potential for setting impacts to be more pronounced (1)
  • planning authorities have significant numbers of applications to deal with and developers should bear the cost of this – if additional costs of planning authorities are not met, the time frame for responding to applications should be increased (1)

Contact

Email: feesreview2022@gov.scot

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