31st March 2023
In July 2022, the High Court found that the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy breached the Climate Change Act 2008 because it didn’t spell out how promised emission cuts could be delivered. The High Court ordered the government to inform parliament, by April 2023, how specific policies would contribute towards emissions reductions.
The UK’s so-called “Energy Security Day”, 30 March 2023, saw publication of a suite of documents which comprise the government’s compliance with that order. The suite of documents map out the government’s proposals to strengthen Britain’s long-term energy security and independence, and to aim for a clean, green future.
Powering Up Britain is an over-arching delivery plan which brings together the Energy Security Plan and Net Zero Growth Plan (as to both of which, see below) and amounts to the government’s blueprint for the future of energy in the UK.
The Energy Security Plan sets out the steps the government is taking and will take to ensure the UK becomes more energy independent, secure and resilient. Key commitments include:
The Net Zero Growth Plan builds on the government’s commitments to achieve net zero goals as set out in its 2021 Net Zero Strategy, and responds to Chris Skidmore’s Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero. Key commitments include:
Mobilising Green Investment, the 2023 Green Finance Strategy is the latest update to the government’s strategy to harness the UK’s financial services sector to support climate objectives. It promises an investment roadmap by 2024 to support nature-positive transition for key sectors , at least £75 million investment for net zero-related research into natural resources, waste and F-gases, and further investment in the circular economy and supporting local areas to unlock green investment opportunities.
The 2030 Strategic framework for international climate and nature action sets out how the UK will deliver internationally on its climate and nature goals in the remainder of this decade; and the UK Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework: Delivery Plan 2022 to 2025 explains the current government portfolio of research and innovation programmes to deliver net zero ambitions.
As well as publication of key strategic documents, “Energy Security Day” saw the announcement of a number of new consultations including:
Although the Energy Security Day publications deliver relatively little new policy, it is a helpful consolidation of the many interconnected policies and provides much needed explanation and clarification where the Net Zero Strategy was previously found lacking detail. Target timelines for delivery will help investors and businesses with their net zero transition and investment planning. However, there’s nothing concrete, as yet, as to what planning reform will really look like; what’s on the horizon for solar; next steps for biomass and other waste agricultural products; nor practical solutions for some of the strategic challenges facing transmission networks and grid connections, for example. Walker Morris will monitor and report on key developments.
Proposed actions under the UK government’s Energy Security Day documents are wide-ranging. They will affect different sectors, and different roles within businesses, in different ways. But there’s no doubt that today’s ever-increasing focus on sustainability, and the drive towards achieving net zero objectives, will affect every business – from its investment and financing, to its communications, reporting and consumer-relations; and from its corporate social responsibility, to its contracting, resourcing and delivery.
Walker Morris’ specialist Infrastructure & Energy lawyers can help businesses to successfully navigate, and to capitalise upon, the various net zero-related changes on the horizon. We can work seamlessly across the relevant legal disciplines and affected sectors to help businesses in an advisory capacity, keeping clients fully informed as to legal/regulatory changes and requirements. We can undertake contract- and policy/procedure- reviews to highlight where new terms or approaches might be preferable or needed. Where necessary, we can help with contractual negotiations and with drafting new contractual arrangements or variations as required. If/when complaints or queries do arise, we can provide strategic and dispute resolution advice and we can guide businesses through any investigations or complaints-handling processes. In addition, we can support infrastructure and development clients from cradle to grave, offering strategic, risk management, practical and transactional advice in relation to all aspects of infrastructure or energy projects and real estate/planning transactions.
 See Walker Morris’ recent briefing on the NSIPs Action Plan, the government’s proposed planning overhaul
 such as agriculture, forestry, water, resources and waste