This is entry number 214, published on 10 February 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog.
Today's entry reports on progress on nationally significant infrastructure projects.
2011 has seen a little more momentum building up with the projects that require authorisation under the Planning Act regime. As we approach the first anniversary of when the IPC opened to receive applications on 1 March, here is the latest on applications under examination and in the pipeline.
Only one application is currently being examined by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) - an energy from waste project in Bedfordshire being promoted by Covanta Energy. Written representations on the project are currently being invited until the end of this month.
That application was not the first to be made to the IPC, but the one that was first, for an electric line near Neath in Wales, was not accepted for examination due to shortcomings in the application documentation.
On 31 December, a third application was received by the Infrastructure Planning Commission, some time after the first two were made in August. This application is for an energy from waste plant near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, promoted by Covanta Energy, who have the other live application. The IPC had 28 days to accept or reject it for examination, and accepted it on 26 January. Covanta have taken less time to publish notice of the acceptance than they did first time round - just over a week rather than six weeks. The objection period will start tomorrow and end on 25 March. To register an objection, visit the application page on the IPC website here
Meanwhile, three further applications have started their formal pre-application consultation by publishing notices in national newspapers (the Times seems to be the universal paper of choice - in our experience it works out as the cheapest). These are Able's marine energy park in North Lincolnshire, Vattenfall's extension to the Kentish Flats offshore wind farm, and Helius Energy's biomass plant in Southampton. Consultation on all three is running until next month. Visit my links page here to find out more details.
Given that only ten projects have started their pre-application consultation since March 2010, and two of those were subsequently withdrawn, this suggests that at last the new regime is getting into its stride. Of the eight that are still in the running, I am proud to say that we are acting for the promoters of two of them. Luckily the experience we are acquiring will still be valid once the Localism Bill has finished with the regime, as the application process is to remain largely unchanged.
Here is a custom-made (blog exclusive - woo!) chart of projects that have reached at least one formal stage of the process. 'Scoping' is where the promoter has sought an environmental scoping opinion from the IPC; consultation is where the formal public consultation has been launched; application is where an application has been made to the IPC; acceptance is where the application has been accepted by the IPC; examination is where the preliminary meeting has taken place and the six-month examination period is running; and decision is where a decision has been reached (nothing has got that far yet).
Click here for the chart.
The chart is not quite what was expected a year ago - OK, it is not at all what was expected a year ago, when about 35 applications were supposed to be under consideration by now, but at last there are signs that the process is moving up a gear.
If you want to learn more about the IPC process, there is a Waterfront conference next Tuesday on it with an excellent line-up of speakers at a fine venue. For more details see here.