4 September 2023
Xlinks has asked the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to confirm that the Morocco-UK Power Project is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
The change would mean the project falls under the Planning Act 2008, requiring a Development Consent Order from the Government rather than planning permission from the local authority.
If the request is granted, Xlinks will carry out a further round of consultation on its plans before applying for a Development Consent Order.
Xlinks has asked the Government to confirm that its plans to connect 3.6GW of low-cost, reliable, renewable power from Morocco to the Great British electricity grid qualify as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, often known as NSIPs, are major infrastructure projects that require development consent to be granted by the relevant Secretary of State through a Development Consent Order. They follow a strict legal process with fixed timescales set out in the Planning Act 2008, which requires projects to carry out public consultation and undergo an independent examination. Should the Government agree that the project qualifies as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, Xlinks will need to apply to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero for planning permission, rather than the local council. A response to the request is expected within 28 days.
Nigel Williams, Project Director, HVDC Transmission, Xlinks said:
"Our project will make a real difference to the country’s climate commitments and energy security. The proposed change in planning process recognises this: there is a fixed, legal process for seeking a Development Consent Order, which provides certainty and clarity for all involved."
“Local feedback has been really important in shaping our plans to date. Should the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero grant our request, we’ll carry out another round of consultation – not only is it a requirement under the Planning Act 2008, but we welcome the opportunity to discuss our proposals with local people again and answer any questions they may still have.”