UK: Two DCOS Approved In One Day To Bring Total To 10

Last Updated: 22 July 2013
Article by Angus Walker

Today's entry reports on the approval of a wind farm and hazardous waste facility yesterday.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change approved the application for the Triton Knoll offshore wind farm, while the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government approved his first application, for the East Northamptonshire Resource Management Facility.  Both projects are considered to be in the East Midlands, and are the first two consents in that region.

It is always worth reading decision letters because they contain useful nuggets that are relevant to other applications.  Here is a summary.

Triton Knoll

The Triton Knoll offshore wind farm is to be a wind farm of up to 288 turbines off the Lincolnshire coast being promoted by RWE Npower Renewables. If fully built it would be the largest offshore wind farm in the world.  The decision letter can be found here.

The application did not include the infrastructure connecting the wind farm to the onshore electricity grid due to the connection point not having been finalised when it was made.  The panel inserted a requirement that this had to be at least consented before work to the wind farm could start, but the Secretary of State decided this was not necessary and removed it again. 

As has been the case for other Development Consent Orders (DCOs), the Secretary of State made some additional changes to the drafting, and the phrase 'To maintain consistency with other offshore wind farms approved under the Planning Act 1998 [sic]' is used a couple of times, suggesting that there is now a body of reliable precedent that can be drawn on.

Every nationally significant infrastructure project worth its salt has a key animal species involved and in Triton Knoll's case this was the Sandwich tern.

East Northants RMF

The East Northamptonshire Resource Management Facility is an extension of an existing nationally significant hazardous waste project in, not surprisingly, east Northamptonshire, promoted by Augean plc (I like the classical reference).  The facility is also allowed to handle low level radioactive waste, limited by the Secretary of State to 448,000 tonnes. The decision letter can be found here.

That last factor leads to something in the decision on the perception of harm, which could be relevant to other applications.  'The Secretary of State agrees with and accepts the [Examining Authority's] conclusion that the continuing perception of harm is an adverse effect of the proposed development and actions to address such perceptions should be included in the development consent order'.  Having said that, this is reflected in the DCO merely by saying that 'the authorised development must be carried out in accordance with section 10 of the environmental document', so it does not impose anything additional to the applicant's own proposals.

The Secretary of State had to deal with the fact of the finalised National Policy Statement (NPS) for hazardous waste being published last month.  He decided to take the changes into account but that they weren't sufficiently significant to mean any further consultation had to take place.

You might have thought that the decision would be made by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs given that he is responsible for the corresponding NPS, but it was announced back in December 2010 that these would be DCLG decisions (see para 18).

Ten Development Consent Orders

Although the Planning Act 2008 regime has been going for over three years and only 11 decisions have been made (one refusal, hence 10 DCOs), yesterday was not the first day that two DCOs were approved on the same day - that also happened on 19 March, when the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station and the Heysham to M6 Link Road were approved.

We now have 10 DCOs that have passed muster, can be implemented and whose drafting can be relied upon as acceptable to the government, as follows:

So Galloper gets the prize for the shortest name so far, and Heysham is likely to remain holder of the longest name prize for some time.  A lawyer at another firm has tweeted that I should update the lawyer league table in the light of yesterday's decisions - I wonder why?  I think it's a bit soon to publish it again, don't you?  Maybe in a couple of weeks...

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Angus Walker
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