UK: Planning Act Blog 184: IPC Project Update - Questions in the House, Answers from the IPC

Last Updated: 9 November 2010
Article by Angus Walker

This is entry number 184, first published on 8 November 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.

Today's entry is an update on the status of projects coming before the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) now has 54 projects on its books, although four of these are listed as 'withdrawn'.  Here is the latest news about those and others.

Rookery South Energy from Waste plant

This is the first and so far only application to have been accepted by the IPC.  The deadline for making representations on it is 19 November.

As with any large infrastructure project, this 'resource recovery facility' is not universally popular.  On Thursday Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs during question time to halt the registration process for this project, being promoted by Covanta Energy in her constituency.  Here is a link to the Hansard extract.

Her question referred to potential objectors having to read a '7000 page document' and that there are irregularities in the online registration process.  No further details are provided.  Needless to say, the Minister (Richard Benyon) gave a neutral reply, albeit referring to the 19 November deadline, so he had done his homework.

Maesgwyn power line

This was the first application to be made to the IPC, but they refused to accept it at the beginning of September. 

It appears that promoter Western Power Distribution is gearing up to resubmit its application, if the IPC Register of Advice is anything to go by.  The correspondence between promoter Western Power Distribution, their lawyers Osborne Clarke, and the IPC suggests that adjustments are being made to the application documentation.  The IPC still seems unhappy with the proposed development consent order, however, and also has an issue with the land and works plans being inconsistent.

Hull biomass project

This is one of only five other projects to have started their formal pre-application process, but DONG Energy (that's Danish Oil and Natural Gas, before you ask) has decided to withdraw the proposal.  It was to have been for a biomass power station to generate just under 300MW of electricity (chosen presumably to avoid 'carbon capture readiness' obligations).   DONG has decided to concentrate on its core business of gas-fired power stations and offshore windfarms. 

A21 highway upgrade

This project in Kent is marked as withdrawn, and is the only direct casualty of the comprehensive spending review amongst IPC projects.

Cheeseman's Green highway works

This project near Ashford in Kent was at one time going to be the first application to be made to the IPC.  Those were the days.  It disappeared for a while but has recently reappeared, marked as 'withdrawn'.  The project consisted of works to a trunk road to facilitate a housing development, which did not go ahead.  If the policy is now to list all projects that have ever appeared, we need to see the Waterloo offshore wind farm too.

Bryn Llywelyn onshore windfarm

This is the fourth and final forthcoming application that is listed as withdrawn.  The reason is that the applicant RES has decided to apply for a scheme that is less than the IPC threshold of 50MW of electricity generation, and hence is applying to the local authority instead, so the project is still in fact carrying on.

Other pre-application consultations

Four other projects have started their pre-application consultation: EDF's Hinkley Point nuclear power station, another Covanta Energy energy from waste plant near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, Scottish and Southern Energy's wind farm at Nant y Moch in Wales and Lafarge Aggregates' railway diversion at Whitwell in Derbyshire.

I maintain an up-to-date list of live applications and all other current Planning Act links at blog entry number 127.  Bookmark it now! (ctrl+B)

Other scoping opinions

One area where the IPC has been particularly active is the production of scoping opinions. Scoping opinions are advice from the IPC on what the promoter's Environmental Statement (ES) should contain.  No fewer than 24 of the projects on the IPC's list have now been supplied with scoping opinions, just under half of the total (only one being for an application now withdrawn). 

In every case the applicant has supplied the IPC with a 'scoping report' of what it is planning to put in its ES, to give the IPC a head start, although this is technically optional.  Here is a link to the scoping reports and scoping opinions.

Expect a blog entry soon when they hit 25, analysing the consultation exercises that were undertaken.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Angus Walker
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