In November 2020, the government published its ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ (TPP). 

Yohanna Weber

Yohanna Weber

This came hot on the heels of a white paper that, back in August, promised “radical [planning] reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War”. But can the most radical of planning reforms make good on the TPP’s promises?

As things currently stand, I think not – at least not within the TPP’s 10-year timeframe.

Take three examples:

TPP Point 1 – “40GW of offshore wind energy is to be produced by 2030”: given that it takes 18 to 24 months to obtain a development consent order for a 1GW to 2GW farm, 30GW of projects would need to be consented practically simultaneously, starting now. Because when you add in land assembly for onshore grid connection, planning permissions for (also promised) new ports and manufacturing facilities, and transport infrastructure, plus the practical hurdles of design and construction, we begin to realise what a truly Herculean task this is.

TPP Point 4 – “Accelerating the shift to electric vehicles”: by 2030, the TPP “expects” a network of 2,500 charge points to be installed on England’s motorways and major A-roads. It also calls for the installation of more on-street charge points near homes and workplaces. But retro-fitting charging infrastructure into existing streets and towns on the scale required to make this transition work requires the navigation of a jungle of planning red tape, upgrades to local electricity distribution networks, consents from statutory undertakers, licences from highways authorities, planning permissions and landowners’ rights.

TPP Point 9 – “The creation of new national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty”: the government aims to start the designating process in 2021, which undermines proposed new local plan requirements for local authorities to designate areas for planning growth and renewal to achieve centrally determined housing targets.

The list could go on. So, can the newly revolutionised planning system deliver the government’s ‘green industrial revolution’? The answer is ’probably not’ – unless one revolution sits down with the other and they have a serious chat.

Yohanna Weber is partner at Davitt Jones Bould