This is entry number 158, first published on 27 August 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.
Today's entry reports on the Infrastructure Planning Commission's first acceptance of an application.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is the body charged since March 2010 with receiving, examining and potentially deciding applications for nationally significant energy and transport projects.
Although applications have had to be made to it since March, the IPC did not receive any applications until earlier this month. It received its first two applications, for a power line near Neath and an Energy from Waste plant near Bedford, on 3 and 5 August respectively. When it receives an application, it has 28 days to decide whether to accept or reject it.
Yesterday the IPC accepted the second of the two applications, only 21 days after it was made, so it can boast that it is ahead of schedule on that application at least.
It can reject an application on various grounds - such as that it is not a nationally significant infrastructure project, the pre-application consultation was inadequate, some of the application documentation is missing, or it does not comply with the IPC's standards. Local authorities dissatisfied with the pre-application consultation can submit an 'adequacy of consultation report' to the IPC setting out their criticisms (or potentially approving of the pre-application consultation).
The application now has its own page on the IPC website http://bit.ly/bN0YKz, which is where the application documentation will appear (apparently by next Friday, 3 September), and where it will be possible to 'register' for making representations about the application.
The next step is for the applicant, Covanta Energy, to publicise the acceptance of the application and invite representations to be made to the IPC. There is no particular time limit for it to do this, but it will no doubt wish to do so fairly swiftly. It must inform the pre-application consultees and also publish a notice in a local and national newspaper and the London Gazette. Such publication will of course be noted here.
This lack of time limit means one cannot give a precise figure for how long an application must take between it being sent to the IPC and the issuing of a decision. There is another gap between the end of the period for making representations and the IPC holding its 'preliminary meeting', although government guidance says this should be no more than six weeks.
The concept of registering to make representations is a new one - there is no such requirement in the Act. This may turn out to be confined to making representations via the IPC website.
Acceptance or rejection of the first application made to the IPC, the Neath overhead line, must take place by Tuesday 31 August, so given the bank holiday there is not long left.