Policy I/EI: Energy infrastructure masterplanning

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set out the requirements for energy infrastructure to support development.

Proposed policy direction

We propose to require energy masterplans for residential developments and non-residential development of a scale and nature that would allow for the benefits of smart energy management to be identified and secured. It is proposed that the requirement would apply to developments of over 100 dwellings.

Energy masterplans should include an assessment of the capacity of infrastructure to support the development, any necessary reinforcements and the approach to energy provision to support net zero carbon development, smart energy management to reduce peak loads and greenhouse gas emissions and the electrification of transport giving consideration to site wide approaches. 

The policy will also safeguard land required to support the reinforcement of existing electricity infrastructure, for example land adjacent to existing primary sub-stations, from other forms of development. 

Why is this policy needed?

Work carried out to assess electricity grid capacity for Greater Cambridge has highlighted the need to triple capacity to support the development already planned in the area and electrification of transport. The electricity grid serving the Greater Cambridge area has seen a significant growth in renewable and low carbon energy generation.  Major new developments are often accompanied by new energy generation capacity in order to meet carbon reduction requirements and, in some cases, to meet funding requirements.  The transition to net zero carbon is also placing new pressures on electricity infrastructure, with the electrification of heat and transport all leading to a need for reinforcement and additional capacity on the grid. 

While these capacity issues can be resolved through traditional grid reinforcement routes, there are opportunities to take a more joined up approach to infrastructure provision in order to support the transition to a net zero carbon society and open up the potential for some infrastructure to be forward funded to help speed up the delivery of key development sites.   

While the Local Plan will be supported by work to assess electricity infrastructure capacity in the area, this assessment is at a very high level, and presents a picture of capacity as a moment in time.  As more detailed work on the masterplanning of strategic developments progresses, greater clarity can be provided as to actual energy requirements and the infrastructure required to support development.  This policy seeks to ensure that this approach is integrated at a very early stage, via the development of energy masterplans for strategic developments.  This approach may also help to support the forward funding of such infrastructure. 

A grid capacity study and energy masterplan has already been developed for the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan.  This work considered the energy requirements of the North East Cambridge development, current capacity of the primary sub-station serving the area, options to deliver the necessary reinforcement of that sub-station and the energy options to support the development of the site.   Studies for strategic developments could follow a similar format.  

What consultation have we done on this issue?

There was support through the First Conversation consultation for the reinforcement of electricity infrastructure, utilising renewable energy generation, smart management and energy storage.  There was a recognition that infrastructure should contribute towards net zero carbon targets, with support for the development of heat networks as well as emerging new technologies such as hydrogen. 

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy – This is not the preferred approach as energy infrastructure availability has become an important issue in Greater Cambridge particularly with the growing emphasis on renewable energy.  It is important this addressed in a planned way by major developments rather than on an ad-hoc basis.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 8: Infrastructure

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy TI/8: Infrastructure and New Developments

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 85: Infrastructure delivery, planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy

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