Requirement for planning permission as part of the connection application process for generation connections

This statement relates to all applications from renewables developers seeking on-shore generation connections to NIE Networks’ distribution network. For many years NIE Networks has adopted the policy that applications for such connections must be accompanied by evidence of the grant of planning permission for the proposed site.

This policy was implemented to ensure that scarce capacity on the network was allocated efficiently and to reduce the potential for this scarce capacity being allocated to projects which may never proceed. However, following a recent but as yet unpublished Determination by the Utility Regulator, dated 30 July 2015, NIE Networks must change this policy to allow connection applications to be processed where these are not accompanied by evidence of planning permission.

Any generation connection applications received after 30 July 2015, not accompanied by evidence of planning permission, will be accepted and processed without such permission being in place. Such applications will receive a place in the Distribution System generation connection queue and be allocated capacity if available. Once connection offers are issued, applicants will continue to have 90 days in which to accept their connection offer.

The acceptance of the connection application and subsequent offer effectively reserves the capacity on the Distribution System for the connection of that generation project. NIE Networks is mindful of the scarce capacity remaining on the network and is therefore considering a process which may require the grant of planning permission to be achieved within a determined period of time.

NIE Networks is working towards an update to its Statement of Charges to reflect this change in policy. Whereas NIE Networks is responsible for connections to the Distribution System (i.e. 33kV, 11kV and LV); in some cases large multi MW projects may be connected to the transmission system. SONI, the TSO, has responsibility for applications to connect to the Transmission System.

We understand that when published, SONI (who were not party to the dispute) will thoroughly review the Determination and consider any potential impact on transmission connections and access to the transmission network for parties connecting to the distribution system. Any change to NIE Networks' policy does not constitute a change to SONI’s policies at this time.

For questions regarding transmission connection, please contact SONI directly at Connections@soni.ltd.uk

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