Navigating the Planning Complexities of Hydrogen Projects
Planning permission, land constraints and gaining land rights are all core bottlenecks of the hydrogen economy but are impossible to avoid. Hydrogen Industry leaders examines the best ways to navigate these barriers through the recent contract awarded on the East Coast Hydrogen pipeline.

As massive volumes of new infrastructure will be built over the coming decades to secure the future energy needs for the UK, there have been widely reported concerns over planning permission for particularly large infrastructure projects. 

Real world examples of permission will undoubtedly give the sector, especially those operating in the UK, the confidence to push ahead with further plans to build the hydrogen economy. 

Looking to do just this, leading infrastructure consultancy Fisher German has won a contract to provide land services and initial consultation for the construction of a major hydrogen cluster scheme which will help the UK reach its net zero targets.

Fisher German will work as part of a multi-disciplinary team including Worley, J.Murphy & Sons, SLR and Camargue to support the pre-FEED and FEED of Cadent’s East Coast Hydrogen Pipeline (ECHP), which will connect hydrogen plants to end users and other strategic networks in the east region.

Consenting strategy at the heart of planning permission

The multi-disciplinary team will be identifying the consenting regime and developing the consenting strategy in preparation for FEED. East Coast Hydrogen (ECH2) will connect 10 gigawatts (GW) of hydrogen production from Humber and Teesside industrial hubs to the gas network.

If planning permissions go through, the project is set to convert up to 39,000 businesses over a 15-year timescale. It is also estimated to create tens of thousands of jobs in the future hydrogen economy. 

Looking at experience across other parts of the construction sector, the wider impacts of developments must be highlighted within plans to improve the chances of approval, and advocating for local jobs through the project is an effective way to do this. 

Mark Gilkes, Partner at Fisher German and its DCO Land Strategy Lead said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the project to assist Cadent and the team with the identification of landowners, land constraints and, in the future, to secure land rights for the East Coast Hydrogen Pipeline.”

Before any potential NSIP like this can make progress, landowners along the route of the pipeline must be consulted extensively and their views considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

Fisher German is hopeful that they can push through the planning processes with success stories on over 16 DCOs and have further plans to secure another on the HyNet pipeline across the North West. 

Confidence growing for approvals to be accepted

Speaking of this confidence, Hydrogen Industry Leaders heard: “We have worked with Cadent around securing land rights for major projects and repair work extensively since it separated from National Grid in 2016, we are best placed to deliver this crucial piece of work.”

Adam Knight, Cadent Project Director, added: “This is a major milestone not only in the commencement of the first stage of design, but setting down another marker in Cadent’s ambitions and efforts to transition from natural gas to low carbon hydrogen, supporting UK economic growth and playing an integral role in the decarbonisation of our networks.”