Updates to the National Policy Statement for Electricity Transmission and Distribution Network (EN-5)

United Kingdom

EN-5 is the National Policy Statement which is specific to the electricity transmission and distribution network.

EN-5 applies to:

  • above ground electricity lines over 2km whose nominal voltage is expected to be 132kV or above (subject to some exemptions); and
  • other kinds of electricity infrastructure where it constitutes associated development for which consent is sought alongside an NSIP such as an offshore wind generating station or relevant overhead line, or if the Secretary of State gives a direction under Section 35 of the 2008 Act that it should be treated as an NSIP and requires a development consent order.    

Since the previous draft of EN-5 which was published in September 2021 the Offshore Network Transmission Review (“OTNR”) has been undertaken. This comprised a review of offshore transmission infrastructure at national level. Under the OTNR, NGESO were responsible for conducting a Holistic Network Design Review (“HND”) to assess options to improve the coordination of offshore wind generation connections and transmission networks.

The revised draft of EN-5 reflects this drive towards coordination. This demonstrates that Government recognises the importance of a holistic approach to maximise grid potential and energy out-put, and to minimise impacts.

Draft EN-5 continues to emphasise that “offshore transmission options to single windfarms should only be proposed where options assessment work identifies that a co-ordinated solution is not feasible”. Draft EN-5 places more prominence on co-ordinated transmission proposals than it did in September 2021, noting that identification of these co-ordinated solutions should seek to balance economic viability and efficiency with minimising environmental impact and impact on local communities. Draft EN-5 now states that if through coordinated options assessment work, a radial route is deemed to be the only feasible solution, then applicants should evidence each co-ordination option and the accompanying assessment to support this conclusion. Draft EN-5 states that when considering an application in these circumstances, the Secretary of State should have regard to the needs case for new electricity network infrastructure.

The continued policy support for permanent land rights, as opposed to temporary wayleaves, is welcome. Draft EN-5 maintains that permanent arrangements for acquisition are “strongly preferred” over voluntary wayleaves due to their increased reliability and efficiency. Separate work is ongoing following the call for evidence in respect of land rights for linear electricity infrastructure.

There is also a related consultation on community benefits which is intended to apply to all transmission infrastructure, including interconnectors and transmission infrastructure associated with offshore wind. This remains a key issue for energy projects. This consultation is seeking to introduce new measures to deliver community benefits and focuses on the types of network infrastructure should be in scope for such benefits. The Government’s preference in this regard is a ‘voluntary approach’ supported by Government guidance, which will retain flexibility for community preferences whilst guidance will ensure appropriate consistency. However, the National Infrastructure Commission's subsequent report on delivering net zero, climate resilience and growth recommends a national framework for mandatory benefits. We will issue a further LawNow on this consultation shortly.