This is entry number 161, first published on 7 September 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 IPC reaching a milestone of 50 projects that have been notified to it. The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is the body that is charged with examining, and potentially deciding, applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs), until it is replaced by the Major Infrastructure Projects Unit in April 2012. Applications for energy and transport projects above a certain size have had to be made to the IPC since 1 March, but to date only two such applications have been made, both in early August, only one of which has been accepted for examination. Nevertheless, given the amount of pre-application work that promoters need to do that will involve the IPC, it has been maintaining a databse of projects notified to it and which are at various stages of development. Last week, the project list hit 50 entries for the first time, which is a significant milestone and also a convenient number to perform a little statistical analysis upon. There are 16 types of NSIP covered by the Planning Act. A huge 31 or 62% of the projects are of one type: electricity generating stations of one sort or another. Windfarms make up more than half of these projects, with more offshore than onshore. Second comes electric lines (i.e. pylons), with six projects or 12%, most of which are of course to connect the first type to the grid. Next come highway projects (i.e. motorway or trunk road alterations) with 5 or 10%, the highest transport category. The only project that is neither energy nor transport is the Thames Tunnel, which is a special case since (a) it doesn't fit within any of the existing waste/water categories and has been added as a one-off by the government, and (b) the regime for normal waste/water projects has not been 'switched on' yet and is expected in two phases in 2011 and 2012. Incidentally, today the Environment Secretary has confirmed that the new government supports this project and will still use the Planning Act regime for it.
The IPC has also started giving reference numbers to each project, consisting of two letters and six digits. I will now unnecessarily analyse how these are derived. Not unlike the codes I had used for the National Policy Statements, energy project references start EN, transport projects start TR, and water/waste projects start WW (I had WA). Within each area, '01' denotes the first project type as listed in the Planning Act, '02' the second, and so on. Thus electricity generating stations are EN01, and highways are TR01. Finally, the projects are given a number within their category as they are notified to the IPC. For example EN010001 is the first electricity generating station they found out about (Hinkley Point Nuclear Power station) and TR040001 is the first railway (Shaftholme chord). The numbers do not necessarily form a continuous sequence, since some projects have appeared and then disappeared from the list. For example, the first highway project was once a small scheme near Ashford in Kent that was subsequently dropped, and TR010001 does not appear on the list as a result. On the subject of highways, all five highway projects have recently dropped to the bottom of the list with their anticipated date of application simply given as 'to be confirmed'. This may well be as a result of the government's spending review, which is to conclude in October. Shortly after this happened, the IPC revamped its project listings and now no longer gives expected dates for applications in the main project table, so project slippages will become less obvious. Here is a chart of the numbers of projects by type. There have been no notifications of projects of the remaining eight types: LNG facilities, gas reception facilities, other pipelines, airports, dams/reservoirs, water transfer projects, waste water treatment plants or hazardous waste facilities.
Please click here to view table.
Of the 48 projects that have not yet been applied for, ten are down for an application this year, 18 for next year, 10 for 2012, and 10 beyond that or unknown.