UK: Planning Act Blog 230: Waste Water Projects Come Within Planning Act as MPs Criticise NPS

Last Updated: 8 April 2011
Article by Angus Walker

This is entry number 230, published on 5 April 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. 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 reports on the switch-on of waste water projects tomorrow and today's select committee report on the Waste Water National Policy Statement.

Switch-on for waste water projects

As of tomorrow, applications for waste water treatment plants (sewage works to you and me) above a size threshold must be made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), joining energy and transport projects.  This is the first expansion of the regime since the IPC opened for business on 1 March 2010.

The size threshold is that a new waste water plant is able to treat the, er, output of at least 500,000 people, or an existing waste water plant is to expand by that amount.  As with most (but not all) of the thresholds in the Act, it is the size of the expansion, not the size of the eventual expanded plant, that matters.  For example, a 3,000,000-person facility could avoid the regime altogether by creeping up by a dozen separate 250,000-person increments (or do I mean the opposite of that word?).

Two areas remain to be brought into the regime.  One, hazardous waste facilities, was expected to be brought in this April as well, but has been delayed, probably because the corresponding National Policy Statement (NPS) has not come out in draft yet.  The other area, water supply, was expected to be brought in next year, but since there is not likely to be a Water Supply NPS in the near future due to lack of large enough projects, the switch-on date may also be delayed.

Tomorrow's switch-on could be fairly academic, since the draft Waste Water NPS, issued in November last year, only identifies two projects likely to come forward in the next five years.  These are the reconstruction of the Deephams sewage treatment plant in Edmonton, north London (850,000 population, so well over the threshold), and the Thames Tunnel.  The latter (reported in the last blog entry) is not a waste water treatment plant, but the government intends to use its powers to make the Planning Act apply to it.

Nevertheless it is still possible that an unplanned project comes forward.  The Department for Transport did not anticipate any port projects, but I am working on one that is due to be submitted at the end of next month, so these things happen. 

Don't forget that it is a criminal offence to build a nationally significant infrastructure project without authorisation under the Planning Act, or in excess of an authorisation, and these sanctions will therefore apply to the largest sewage works from tomorrow.

Indeed, with that in mind there may be a problem with the transition to the new regime for waste water.  When energy and transport were switched on in March 2010, there was a 'saving' provision so that projects already applied for but not yet consented under the previous regime were not caught (or indeed already consented but not yet built). 

I wasn't sure whether it was sufficiently comprehensive at the time (see here), but whatever the pros and cons of that, there is no such saving in the waste water switch-on.  This may be because there aren't any (known) nationally significant waste water treatment projects that have been applied for but not yet consented, or consented but not yet built, but if there were, they might be in trouble.

Turn-off for waste water NPS

By coincidence, today the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee published its report into the Waste Water NPS, having held three evidence session on it earier this year (reported here).  The report can be found here.

As with other select committee reports on NPSs, the report is highly critical of the draft.  In particular, it criticises the inclusion of the two chapters dealing with the two projects mentioned above that are expected to come forward (not just 'poorly drafted', but inappropriate to include them at all).  The Committee would prefer that the NPS was redrafted so that it was wholly generic (i.e. did not refer to any specific projects). 

The generic sections do not escape either - they 'lack sufficient detail and clarity', and the NPS shouldn't have been published until more detail had been added.  The NPS should not be designated until these deficiencies are addressed, and should be subject to a debate on the floor of the House of Commons.

To be fair, it would be a bit odd for the NPS to generically address large sewers (i.e. the Thames Tunnel without mentioning it) while they were not part of the Planning Act regime as a category.  On the other hand, the committee does recommend that large-scale sewage collections and transfer schemes are 'urgently' brought within the Planning Act regime generically.  That would have to come first before the NPS could cover them.

Given the potential delays to the energy NPSs, the Waste Water one could have been the first to be designated, but today's report may give DEFRA pause for thought.

Finally, by another coincidence, the House of Lords is due to debate the Waste Water NPS at 3.30 this afternoon in a Grand Committee session.

Previous entry 229: planes, drains and representations
Next entry 231: latest set of documents for leading IPC application published

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Angus Walker
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions