National Policy Statements

What are National Policy Statements?

National Policy Statements are produced by government. They give reasons for the policy set out in the statement, and must include an explanation of how the policy takes account of government policy relating to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. They comprise the government’s objectives for the development of nationally significant infrastructure in a particular sector and state, including:

  • How this will contribute to sustainable development.
  • How these objectives have been integrated with other government policies.
  • How actual and projected capacity and demand have been taken into account.
  • Consideration of relevant issues in relation to safety or technology.
  • Circumstances where it would be particularly important to address the adverse impacts of development.
  • Specific locations, where appropriate, in order to provide a clear framework for investment and planning decisions.

They also include any other policies or circumstances that ministers consider should be taken into account in decisions on infrastructure development.

National Policy Statements undergo a democratic process of public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny before being designated (ie published). They provide the framework within which Examining Authorities make their recommendations to the Secretary of State.

Which sectors do National Policy Statements cover?

There are 11 designated National Policy Statements (NPS), setting out government policy on different types of national infrastructure development, which are:

Energy NPSs

  • NPS for Overarching Energy (EN-1)
  • NPS for Renewable Energy (EN-2)
  • NPS for Fossil Fuels (EN-3)
  • NPS for Oil and Gas Supply and Storage (EN-4)
  • NPS for Electricity Networks (EN-5)
  • NPS for Nuclear Power (EN-6)

These were produced by the former Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). All six energy NPSs received designation by the then Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on 19 July 2011. Energy NPSs can be viewed on the GOV.UK website.

Transport NPSs

  • NPS for Ports
  • NPS for National Networks
  • Draft Airports National Policy Statement

These were produced by the Department for Transport.

The NPS for Ports was designated on 26 January 2012.

The NPS for National Networks was designated on 14 January 2015.

The Airports Commission examined the need for additional UK airport capacity and made a report to the Secretary of State for Transport on 1 July 2015. Following its analysis of the report, on 25 October 2016 the government announced its preference for a third runway to be developed at Heathrow.

The government subsequently carried out a first consultation on a draft Airports NPS between 2 February 2017 and 25 May 2017. This was followed by a second consultation on a revised draft Airports NPS which set out changes arising from:

  • updated noise analysis;
  • a new air quality plan;
  • government policy changes; and
  • consideration of the responses to the first consultation.

The second consultation closed at 11:45pm on 19 December 2017.

The government will consider all responses to the consultation. Following the consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, if the Secretary of State decides to proceed, he will lay a final Airports NPS before Parliament. If this is successful, he will then designate the final Airports NPS.

Water, waste water and waste NPSs

  • NPS for Hazardous Waste
  • NPS for Waste Water
  • Draft NPS for Water Resources

These are produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The NPS for Hazardous Waste was published on 6 June 2013.

The NPS for Waste Water was published on 9 February 2012.

The government consulted on a draft NPS for Water Resources and proposals to amend the definition of nationally significant water infrastructure between 3 November 2017 and 22 December 2017. The consultation included proposals to change the types and sizes of new water supply infrastructure that are defined as ‘nationally significant’ in the Planning Act 2008.

The responses received will inform the development of the NPS for Water Resources and final proposals to amend the definitions in the Planning Act 2008. The government intends to consult on a full draft of the NPS for Water Resources in 2018.

The government opened a consultation on 25 January 2018 to gather views on a draft NPS for Geological Disposal Infrastructure. The consultation seeks views on whether the draft NPS provides an adequate framework to make decisions on development consent applications for geological disposal infrastructure in England. The consultation closes on 19 April 2018.

Does the Planning Inspectorate have a view on the NPSs?

The Planning Inspectorate is impartial and does not comment on government policy. However, Examining Authorities do make their recommendations within the framework provided by NPSs, as required by the Planning Act 2008.

What happens if the relevant NPS has not been designated?

Section 105 of the Planning Act 2008 sets out what the Secretary of State must have regard to in making his or her decision where a relevant NPS is not designated. This includes any matter that the Secretary of State thinks is important and relevant to the Secretary of State’s decision. This could include a draft NPS, if one exists.