Hunt to offer residents near new power projects money off their bills

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Jeremy Hunt plans to speed up the roll out of new electricity networks in Britain by offering people living close to pylons and substations up to £10,000 off their bills over 10 years.

In the Autumn Statement, which is due to be announced in the coming week, the chancellor will claim that the compensation package, alongside planning reforms, would halve the delivery time for new electricity projects from 14 years to seven.

The slow delivery of new pylons, power lines and substations is seen by the Treasury as a big drag on Britain’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Hunt will also claim that by removing blockages in the planning system, he could bring forward £90bn of global investment over the next decade, as he tries to boost growth by pulling in more overseas cash.

The chancellor repeated on Saturday that the Statement’s principal focus would be measures to boost Britain’s sluggish growth rate. The economy is expected to barely grow over the next two years.

Planning reforms will include a new “premium planning service” — with a fee attached — and the prioritisation of the rollout of electric vehicle charging points.

Britain needs to rapidly build more electricity cables to move power from new and planned wind and solar farms to where it is needed, as part of the shift away from fossil fuels. 

However, planned pylons and cables are facing opposition in several parts of the country from people living nearby, who have raised concerns about the impact on the environment and views. 

In August the government’s electricity networks commissioner Nick Winser recommended households living near new transmission lines should be given lump sum compensation payments.

One Treasury figure familiar with the Chancellor’s thinking said: “Expanding the grid will unlock global investment for Britain and bring improvements for people across the country, with energy security that will keep energy costs down. 

“By speeding up the planning system, including the rollout of EV charge points, we will be tackling one of the most common issues raised by businesses who are keen to invest in the UK.”

The slow pace at which new wind and solar farms are able to connect to the electricity network has emerged as a big problem in Britain in recent years. Some renewable energy projects have been given connection dates in the 2030s. 

National Grid, which owns and runs the main transmission network, said this month that the queue to connect to the transmission network comprise projects with a combined capacity of 400GW, several times more than the total capacity currently connected. 

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