Today’s entry reports on the latest decision on a Development Consent Order and an application that has been delayed.

On 13 March the Secretary of State for Transport granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Millbrook power station in Bedfordshire.

Here are the facts and figures:

  • project: a 299MW power station at Rookery Pit near Bedford;
  • promoter: the Millbrook Power Ltd (part of the Drax Group);
  • application made: 23 October 2017;
  • one inspector, Jonathan Green, his fifth appointment;
  • 20 relevant representations, low;
  • 6 written representations, very low;
  • 100 questions in the first round, fairly low these days;
  • one compulsory acquisition hearings, two issue specific hearings and no open floor hearings – low;
  • two Local Impact Reports, from Bedford and Central Bedfordshire;
  • examination exactly six months, recommendation exactly three months, decision exactly of three months – the decision was on the first birthday of the preliminary meeting;
  • 506 days from application to decision, 16 1/2 months, average; and
  • 213 documents on the Planning Inspectorate web page on the date of the decision (not including the relevant representations), one of the lowest.

Here are the points I noted in the decision letter. Only a couple this time.

As noted in a previous blog entry there was a disagreement as to whether a Development Consent Order could amend an earlier one for a different project with a different undertaker, in this case the first DCO to be made, the Rookery South DCO. The promoter of this project, the Examining Authority and the Secretary of State (and I, for that matter), all agree that this is possible and accordingly a schedule in the Millbrook DCO amends the Rookery South one. To quote the decision letter:

‘section 120(5) [of the Planning Act 2008] does provide an appropriate mechanism for a new Development Consent Order to amend an existing Development Consent Order’

The Secretary of State did not like the idea of a time limit being imposed on him to appoint an arbitrator and removed the provision, saying ‘there is no evidence that the Secretary of State has previously failed to appoint an arbitrator on request’.

The applicant for the Rail Central strategic rail freight interchange, whose representation period finished on 15 January with 1324 representations received, has requested a delay to the Preliminary Meeting until September or possibly November this year, according to this letter. The Examining Authority is consulting on whether to allow this delay.

Today is the tenth and final day of the multiple judicial reviews into the Airports National Policy Statement, principally approving the government policy of a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport (the only subject of any of the judicial reviews). For Planning Act 2008 junkies, unusually a full daily transcript is being provided, so you can see the whole thing – 1637 pages so far – here.

The next DCO decision will be for the Teesside Power Station project, due on or before (but probably on) 10 April.