This is entry number 187, first published on 16 November 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 publication of the eighth National Policy Statement, for waste water.

National Policy Statement latest

National Policy Statements (NPSs) are one of the cornerstones of the Planning Act regime. Their twin purposes are to set out the need for each type of infrastructure and what impacts should be dealt with by applicants and considered by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) when applications are made.

There are due to be 12 NPSs - six on energy, three on transport and three on water and waste. The six energy NPSs were published in draft a year ago, and revised drafts were published last month. One of the transport NPSs - the Ports NPS - was published a year ago: a revised draft (or final version) is still awaited. The other two transport NPSs - National Networks (road and rail) and Airports - have yet to be published. Today marks the publication of the first water/waste NPS, and the first one that is the responsibility of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The Waste Water NPS (that's sewage to you and me) deals with one type of nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) in the Planning Act, namely waste water treatment plants that have a capacity of the equivalent of 500,000 people or more (never was the word 'capacity' used so euphemistically), or that are being enlarged by at least that amount.

Unusually it is also to cover a project that is not within the categories of NSIP in the Act, but for which the government has used its power to declare that it will use the Planning Act regime, namely the Thames Tunnel. This is a large tunnel proposed to run under the Thames to deal with sewage overflows so that they go into the tunnel rather than the Thames. There is a public consultation running on the Thames Tunnel until 20 December (reported here). The government announced today that it will consult on a draft order early next year to amend the definitions in the Planning Act so that they include the Thames Tunnel.

Contents of the Waste Water NPS

Here is a link to the Waste Water NPS and here is the corresponding written statement made to Parliament. The consultation document is here.

There will also be a period of Parliamentary scrutiny, the first step of which is for the Liaison Committee to decide whether a special committee should be set up to consider the NPS, or to refer it to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (which it will most likely do). The committee will then call for evidence and hear witnesses, as happened with the other NPSs earlier this year. The written statement accompanying the Bill in Parliament says that the 'relevant date' is 17 May 2011, which means that the committee will have to report by 8 April 2011.

As with the other NPSs, there are to be public consultation events on the NPS. These are to take place in London (given that's where both projects are) and possibly elsewhere. I have asked for details when these become available.