On 29 November 2018, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (“DEFRA”) released a consultation on its draft National Policy Statement (“NPS”) for Water Resources Infrastructure. The draft NPS sets out a framework for DEFRA and the Planning Inspectorate when considering development consent applications for water resources nationally significant infrastructure projects (“NSIPs”) in England and Wales.

The consultation on the draft NPS closed on 31 January 2019, and on 14 February 2019 the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (“the Committee”) launched an inquiry into the draft NPS. We reported on the content of the draft NPS here.

As part of this phase of Parliamentary scrutiny, the Committee has invited written submissions on the following four areas of the draft NPS:

  1. Will the draft NPS encourage the sustainable, resilient and safe infrastructure projects required to meet future challenges?

  2. Are the assessment criteria that must be considered in development consent applications adequately set out?

  3. What are the implications of streamlining the planning process, whereby a NSIP already included in a Water Resource Management Plan does not need to be revisited as part of a development consent?

  4. How effectively has DEFRA consulted with relevant stakeholders, such as industry and other parts of Government, in the development of the draft NPS?

What next?

The deadline for submission of written responses to the Committee is 6 March 2019, and interested parties should use this opportunity to input into the draft NPS. The Committee's web page is here.

DEFRA aims to designate the final NPS in 2019. Once designated, the NPS will be used as the primary basis for decisions on development consent applications relating to water resources NSIPs. The Government will then be under a statutory duty to decide DCO applications for water resources NSIPs in accordance with the designated NPS (subject to certain exceptions), so the designation of the NPS will provide certainty to the Government’s decision-making process.