The European Parliament has given the green light to laws that will drastically cut the time it takes to build huge infrastructure projects.
The new proposals will allow big projects such as cross country power lines and grids to be given planning consent in a matter of just months rather than the years it normally takes. The regulation will only apply however to what the EU deem “crucial” infrastructures or projects of “common interest”, i.e. those that are cross-border or have benefits for two or more Member States.
The European Commission had set out the plans in the document ‘Guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure’ published in October 2011, aimed at ensuring energy networks and storage facilities are completed by 2020 and provide necessary EU financial support for projects.
The Parliament approved the plan yesterday and Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy was clearly pleased: “This is really a breakthrough and will give a big push to much needed infrastructure. Rather than waiting up to 12 years or longer for a permit, developers of crucial cross-border infrastructure – such as pipelines or power grids – will have a decision in about four years. This will save them time and money – and will help us create a true European market where energy systems are physically connected with each other. Consumers and companies will profit because competition keeps costs down,” he said.
The regulation also aims to fully integrate the internal energy market by ensuring no Member State is isolated from the European network and contributes to sustainable development and protection of the environment. That would be by helping the Union achieve its targets of a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, 20% increase in energy efficiency and 20% of renewable energy by 2020 whilst ensuring security of supply.