On Tuesday 12 April 2016, the House of Lords considered the Commons amendments to the Energy Bill. The Lords also considered a number of additional amendments tabled by peers, some tabled on behalf of the Government and some on behalf of the renewables industry.
The Commons amendments (including the reinsertion of the clause for early closure of the renewables obligation to onshore wind and associated grace period drafting) were all agreed to subject to some minor amendments. The Government’s additional amendments, the majority of which were designed to ensure the early closure provisions would not be “backdated” as a result of the Bill being passed after the originally intended closure date of 31 March 2016, were also agreed. All of the other additional amendments were either not moved or were voted down apart from one, the amendment moved by Labour peer, Lord Grantchester, which was agreed to by a very small majority of four votes. This amendment provides that where a planning authority had resolved to grant planning permission for a project on or before 18 June 2015 but planning permission was granted after this date, the planning criteria for the Approved Development Grace Period would be satisfied. This would cover circumstances where a planning committee resolved to grant planning permission on or before 18 June subject to a Section 75 Agreement in Scotland or a Section 106 Agreement in England and Wales being entered into which was subsequently agreed after 18 June 2015.
Lord Grantchester stated that “Amendment 7AB proposes a logical, consistent, clear, honest and fair extension to the exceptions agreed by the Government. The wider onshore wind industry has come to a consensus and supports this single, narrow extension to the existing renewables grace period criteria.”
Similar amendments were tabled during the Bill’s progression through the House of Commons but were ultimately defeated. Therefore it will be interesting to see what approach the Commons take in respect of this amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons for consideration of the amendments made in the House of Lords. The date announced for this is 20 April 2016.
We are monitoring the Bill’s progress very closely. Watch this space for further updates and feel free to come and see us at Stand Q60 at All-Energy 2016 in Glasgow on the 4th and 5th of May by which point the Bill may have become the Energy Act 2016.
Shepherd and Wedderburn solicitors, Susan Swan and Stephanie Mill will be running RO Grace Period Clinics during All-Energy and delegates are invited to attend these clinics to discuss on a one-to-one-basis the Energy Bill provisions in relation to the proposed early closure of the RO as it pertains to onshore wind and the grace periods. Please contact Sissel Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment for the RO Grace Period Clinics.