This is entry number 265, published on 2 August 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 the latest status of projects before the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the advice it has given. 

Applications

Four nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) applications have now been accepted by the IPC, two each from two promoters.

The most advanced project is for an energy from waste project at Rookery South in Bedfordshire, promoted by Covanta Energy.  It will celebrate its first birthday on Friday.  The six-month examination stage has now finished, and since the six energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) have been brought into force ('designated'), the IPC will decide this application.  This will happen by 16 October 2011, meaning that the whole process will have taken a little over 14 months.  This will be the only application that the IPC decides during its lifetime.

The second most advanced project is for another energy from waste project promoted by Covanta Energy, this time at Brig y Cwm near Merthyr Tydfil.  This project had a hiccup when the promoter requested that changes be made to the application, which the IPC subsequently turned down.  The promoter has decided to continue with the original version of the application.  A project meeting with the IPC was held last Friday, the decisions from which are due to be published on the IPC website by this Friday. The six-month examination period has been extended to eight months as a result, taking the decision date past the demise of the IPC.

Neck and neck in roughly third equal place are two railway projects promoted by Network Rail.  One is for a chord at North Doncaster and the other for a chord at Ipswich.  Both are to remove bottlenecks caused by freight and passenger trains using the same lines.  These applications were both made to the IPC in June and accepted in July.  Both now have a period running for making representations on the applications.  The North Doncaster period runs from 28 July to 9 September and the Ipswich period runs from 28 July until 1 September.

A further 11 applications have carried out their formal pre-application consultation and so are theoretically nearly ready to be made.  The stage before that is generally to ask the IPC for an environmental scoping opinion, but the IPC website no longer shows these in one place, so they cannot be counted easily.  The total number of projects on the IPC website is now 68, although eight of these have the status 'archived'. Nevertheless this is the first time as many as 60 live projects have been listed.

Advice

The IPC has been issuing a series of advice notes on various subjects and recently issued the twelfth such note, but also reissued three of the earlier ones.

Advice Note 12 is on 'transboundary effects', which is about how the IPC will deal with a project that may have environmental effects on an EU country other than the UK.  Offshore windfarms and nuclear power stations are likely to fall into this category.  The note can be found here.

The three reissued advice notes are

  • advice note 3: how the IPC identifies consultation bodies,
  • advice note 4: how it handles requests to compel landowners to say who owns land and
  • advice note 5: how it handles requests to compel landowners to allow their land to be surveyed.

All three advice notes have been extensively revised. There is quite a lot of additional material added to advice note 3 interpreting the categories of consultees.  For example, the local authorities that the IPC will consult (and by extension, would expect promoters to consult) are extended from those set out in the Planning Act to include those within 35km of a coastal or offshore project.   Bodies responsible for ferries and tolled roads are now included as consultees.

It would be helpful if this document eventually moved towards a 'directory' of consultees, where rather than setting out categories of consultees, it simply lists actual contact details for them and their scope.  This would reduce a lot of the duplicated time and effort put in by project promoters.

Among other changes, advice note 4 now sets out a procedure for giving the landowners a chance to respond to the application to the IPC, atlhough this is not required by the Planning Act.  This and the changes to advice note 5 are likely to have been prompted by the current judicial review proceedings against the IPC when it gave EDF Energy land-surveying powers - see this blog entry for more details.