This is entry number 251, published on 16 June 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 developments in the Brig y Cwm energy from waste application.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is currently considering two applications.  The second of these, for an energy from waste project at Brig y Cwm near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, had its 'preliminary meeting' last week.  This is the meeting held by the IPC that kicks off the examination of the application. 178 people attended.  A note of the meeting can be found here.  

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, at that meeting the promoter of the project, Covanta Energy, circulated information to the effect that ground levels, and hence the height of the main building, were to be 3 metres higher than originally proposed.  The panel of IPC Commissioners examining the application said they would announce what they would do about that this week.  

The announcement was made on Tuesday.  The panel has decided that the change may or may not require a new application to be made, and it is inviting representations to be made about that until 7 July, whereupon the panel will make a decision on 14 July.  If the decision is that the application can continue, a timetabling meeting will then be held on 29 July.   

Given these 'exceptional circumstances', if the application doesn't have to start again, the period for examining it is being extended to 8 February 2012, two months beyond the six months laid down in the Planning Act.  The power to extend these periods is available, but was expected to be rarely used.  To discourage its use, the Chair of the IPC has to notify the Secretary of State that the deadline has been extended, and it must also be mentioned in the IPC's annual report.  

At the preliminary meeting it was discussed whether the meeting could be adjourned and then reconvened on 29 July.  The examination period would then automatically last until 30 January 2012 without having to extend it.  It was decided that the rules about giving notice of the preliminary meeting did not allow an unnanounced second day of preliminary meeting to take place.  The second meeting will therefore just be 'a meeting' about the application.

This two-month delay takes the date by which the IPC could have decided this application past the date of the IPC's demise, i.e. 1 April 2012, as the decision deadline would be 8 May 2012.  So unless DECC gets a move on with the energy National Policy Statements, the IPC will not decide any applications.  

The panel also confirmed that issue-specific hearings would be held on air quality and health, and the drafting of the Development Consent Order, but nothing else for the moment, as previously proposed.  

The promoter has now lodged the update to the application - 38 of the 101 application documents and plans have been updated, according to this schedule.  

Meanwhile, with consummate timing, at a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) conference yesterday, the IPC Chair Sir Mike Pitt urged project promoters to get 'the best technical and legal advice available' to avoid hold-ups with their projects.