UK: Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project Notes

Last Updated: 7 December 2012
Article by Angus Walker

Today's entry is a general update on applications made under the Planning Act 2008.

The total number of applications made to date is now 23, with the latest being for the East Anglia One offshore windfarm made on 21 November.  Two have made it through the process, four have not, and the remaining 17 are still going.

The Rookery South application continues to undergo special parliamentary procedure, although the trigger that caused this is to be removed from the Planning Act by the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.  The committee of three MPs and three peers has nearly heard the case for the local authorities, with part of one witness and all of another witness's testimony to go.  The committee visited the site this week.

The Kentish Flats offshore windfarm project has had its three month recommendation period extended by two weeks until 6 December because payment for the examination stage had not arrived in time, although I understand it has now arrived.  It is worth noting that the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) have this extension power.

A separate issue on fees has arisen in relation to a couple of applications.  The fees regulations say that the examination stage fee is calculated for each day 'on which the Examining authority examined the application', where 'Examining authority' 'means the panel or single appointed person appointed to examine the application'.  For some reason Examining authority has a capital E and a small a in legislation. 

Promoters are being charged for every working day between the start and end of the examination, whether or not the individual inspectors actually examined the application on each day, on the basis that the Planning Act impact assessment assumed this, and that PINS staff would be working on the application each day.  Yesterday, John Howell MP tabled a probing amendment to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill to highlight this issue.

The Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) application examination stage ended on Saturday, six months to the day since the preliminary meeting.  This makes it the third application to take the full six months (the other two being Hinkley Point C and Brechfa Forest West), no examination having continued beyond the six months laid down in the Act (one was extended but was withdrawn before it got to the end of the original period).  The AMEP examination could have been much longer, but an application to extend it by 18 months was refused on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport on Tuesday.  Note that the Planning Act allows an examination to be extended even after it has finished (i.e. re-opened, presumably).

The Galloper offshore windfarm examination has also just finished, with a letter issued today to say it too has taken the full six months. The Ipswich application finished 50 days early, but the other nine applications have only finished 41 days early in total.

The application for an extension to the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) has not been accepted for examination by PINS.  This reminds us all that the acceptance of an application is not a rubber-stamping exercise.

The M1 Junction 10a Enhancement application had its preliminary meeting a couple of weeks ago in under an hour, which I think will be the record for the shortest one so far out of fifteen to have taken place.

While we are on the subject of records, the King's Lynn electric line application currently holds the record for fewest representations - just five, and the Brig y Cwm energy from waste project had the most, at 9859 - quite a variation.  The number of 'written representations', the fuller documents that can be submitted later, occupy a narrower band, ranging from 98 for Rookery South to 25 for Kentish Flats.  Ipswich managed to have more written representations (32) than original short-form 'relevant' representations (30).

Amongst the ten applications to have finished their examinations, that for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station generated the most documents, at 2283, and the Ipswich chord generated the fewest at 215.  The number of hearings has ranged between 3 (Ipswich) and 15 (AMEP).

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