New guidance on solar PV has been proposed by the government as part of its review into the energy National Policy Statements (NPSs).
Designed to provide guidance for decision-makers on the application of government policy when determining development consent for major infrastructure, the NPSs apply only to infrastructure defined as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
In this new consultation from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), a new section has been added for solar PV setting out how the technology works alongside site selection factors, including specific technical considerations, environment and biodiversity impacts including the potential to make net gain, landscape and visual impacts, glint and glare and land use and heritage considerations.
The section also clarifies that the combined capacity of the installer inverters on the solar site should be used for the purpose of determining the capacity thresholds for solar PV projects under section 15 of the 2008 Act, which determines the size of projects which can be considered at local authority level rather than though the NSIP route.
The first NSIP-approved solar project – the 350MW Cleve Hill Solar Park – is a joint venture between Hive Energy and Wirsol. It was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in 2017, and approved in May 2021.
Meanwhile, last week BayWa r.e. announced its plans for a 163MW solar project in South Derbyshire, with the company to submit its application to the Planning Inspectorate under the NSIP regime in late 2022.
BEIS' consultation – which also looks at other areas of the energy NPSs spanning technologies including other renewables, electricity network infrastructure and fossil fuels among others – follows housing minister Christopher Pincher calling for industry input into how the NSIP regime should be reformed in June.
The consultation is set to close on 29 November.