Committee on energy and climate change also question government assumptions over nuclear and carbon capture and storage

The government’s Localism Bill should be held back until 2012 because it risks “conflicting” with other planning changes, the committee on energy and climate change has warned.

The cross-party committee of MPs said the government’s approach to new planning laws should be “coordinated”.

The Localism Bill, which will give local communities more power to block building in their areas, is expected to pass through parliament this year.  The National Planning Framework is designed to simplify policy statements, and is due to be released in April 2012.

In a report out today into the government’s new national policy statements on energy, the committee said the government was pursuing different planning changes in an uncoordinated way.

It said: “The government has set out on important, but potentially disruptive or even conflicting, reforms of the planning system in relative isolation from one another.”

“The various changes to the planning system must be complementary. We therefore recommend that the development of the National Planning Framework and the National Infrastructure Plan, and the enactment of the Localism Bill, should be coordinated. The Localism Bill should not be enacted until the national planning framework and the national infrastructure plan are completed and active,” it recommended

It also attacked the government for relying far too heavily on carbon capture and storage technology – where carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power stations is stored underground – to meet its energy and carbon reduction targets.

It said: “We conclude that there is a worrying lack of contingency arrangements should key technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, not prove viable. Without carbon capture and storage, the effort required to meet our energy security and climate change targets would be almost insurmountable.”

Conservative MP Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, also said that the committee was “sceptical” about the government’s aim of building two new nuclear power plants every year between 2020 and 2025. He said: “The NPSs [National Planning Statements] lack any real framework for coordinating the process of setting and linking up the new power stations.”