§ Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the planning process for important technical developments in the energy field, especially nuclear; if he is satisfied that the public have adequate information before any decisions regarding technical developments in the energy field are made; if he is satisfied that the public are adequately consulted before any such decisions are made; and whether he proposes to make any changes to the planning processes for important technical developments in the energy field, especially nuclear.
§ Mr. Norman Lamont
Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, the responsibility for planning matters in relation to most energy developments lies with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Scotland or Wales, depending on the location. In the case of electricity generating stations and overhead transmission lines—except in Scotland, and opencast coalmining, however, I have the responsibility for giving deemed planning permission and for imposing appropriate conditions at the same time as giving other statutory consents under section 2 of the Electric Lighting Act 1909, section 10(b)of the Schedule to the Electric Lighting (Clauses) Act 1899 and section 1 of the Opencast Coal Act 1958 respectively. In Scotland the Secretary of State for Scotland has these responsibilities in relation to power stations and overhead lines. In the case of nuclear power stations, safety clearance in the form of a nuclear site licence must also be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive, under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.788W
Present planning legislation already makes substantial provision for informing and consulting the public. My colleagues and I are aware, however, of the continuing need to ensure that decisions on complex technical matters, whether reached under planning or other consent procedures, are soundly based. It is our intention that in such cases all relevant aspects, in particular safety and technical matters should be adequately covered; that the public should be informed and as appropriate given an opportunity to present their views; and that this should be achieved without unduly delaying the decision in question.