UK: The Largest Environmental Statement And Other Comparisons

Last Updated: 3 December 2013
Article by Angus Walker

Today's entry compares the Planning Act 2008 and hybrid bill regimes.

Last Monday, the bill for the first phase of High Speed 2 was deposited in Parliament, and earlier this year the application for the Thames Tideway Tunnel was made under the Planning Act 2008 - two of the largest infrastructure applications ever made.

How do the sizes of the applications compare, and what about the processes for deciding them?


Much has been said about the sizes of the two applications, but how do they actually compare? There is a certain amount of rivalry as to who had the largest environmental statement (ever) so before a fight breaks out, your intrepid blog author, who is a little bit obsessive about these things (future clients note: close attention to detail, not afraid of hard work) has counted the pages in the electronic versions of their respective environmental statements and can announce the following results.

Drum roll, please.

Project HS2 TTT HPC
ES Pages 39610 25600 32133
ES Documents 536 93 185
ES Megabytes 4559 1565 2315
DCO/Bill pages 417 225 160 -> 142

So the winner is HS2, but the Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT) is in fact in third place behind the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (HPC) application. The '160 -> 142' is because the DCO actually got shorter between the application version and the finally decided version.

Of course the ES is only one of several application documents, and so the TTT could still win on overall application size - HS2 doesn't have a consultation report, for example.


How do the processes compare? They have broadly similar elements but are nevertheless rather different.


Objections to a DCO must be made during a representation period, which can be as short as 28 days, although the documentation will have been published somewhat earlier. For example, the Hinkley Point C application documents were published on 23 November 2011, and the representation period ended on 24 January 2012, and the Thames Tideway Tunnel documents were published on 27 March 2013, and the representation period ended on 28 May. In both cases, that meant about two months to consider the documentation.

The process for objecting to HS2 has been split in two - first, there is a chance to comment on the environmental statement during a period of 60 days, and next spring there will be an opportunity to object to, or 'petition against', the bill. There is a second petitioning period in the Lords that will take place in 2015, and the same points can be made again or new ones can, but the chance to change the bill is much more limited.


The examination of an application for a DCO is largely carried out in writing, with some hearings before a panel of 1, 3, 4 or 5 inspectors. Once the preliminary meeting has been held, it must take no more than six months. The inspectors are neutral and, unlike at conventional planning inquiries, proactive.

The examination of a bill is largely carried out orally before a committee of around 10 MPs and then again before seven or so peers, and has no time limits. The Commons committee for the Crossrail Bill, the last hybrid bill, heard petitioners between 17 January 2006 and 10 July 2007.The Lords committee heard petitioners between 26 February and 8 May 2008. The government wants to do all this for HS2 before the election in May 2015, so they will have to shoehorn two and a half years' work into less than a year, which is wildly optimistic.

MPs and peers are also proactive, are neutral in the sense of not having a constituency interest but not in the sense of being opinionated, will not attend all the hearings and when there will often be, um, multi-tasking.


Changes to a project promoted by hybrid bill are generally accepted if the promoter of the bill wishes to make them. If they will have significant environmental effects or will affect new landowners, then there is a mini-petitioning period on the changes, so-called 'additional provisions'. If the committee of MPs recommends that changes are made to the project against the promoter's wishes then these are conventionally accepted by the bill promoter and are also promoted by way of 'additional provisions'. For Crossrail, the changes were grouped together in four batches and there were four supplementary petitioning periods in the Commons. They split the environmental assessment into 'changes requiring additional provisions' and 'changes that not requiring additional provisions' in each case, and so there were no fewer than eight supplementary environmental statements.

There is a contrast here with DCOs. Changes supported by the promoter can be made to a DCO in some circumstances, but they cannot be too significant and even the smallest changes are scrutinised carefully. Whether changes not supported by the promoter can be made to a DCO is currently a live issue with the TTT application.


DCOs are decided within six months of the end of the examination period. Once a hybrid bill has completed consideration of petitions, in each house it will then have a conventional committee stage, report stage and third reading, before finally receiving royal assent at the end. The Crossrail Bill was introduced into Parliament in February 2005 and received royal assent in November 2008, a period of three years and nine months. The Hinkley Point C DCO application was made on 31 October 2011 and received consent on 19 March 2013, under 17 months later.

As being currently experienced, though, one major difference is that the Hinkley Point C decision is being challenged by way of judicial review, being heard in the High Court this week, whereas the enactment of an Act of Parliament cannot be challenged in this way. By the time the Hinkley Point C proceedings have been finally disposed of, a year or more could have elapsed from the date of the decision, so this should be considered as part of the comparison.

Quite a few differences of approach there, and perhaps each regime could learn from the other.

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 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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.