1 September marks 30 months since the Planning Act regime was switched on on 1 March 2010. Ten months ago I did an analysis of the then seven applications to have been made. What does the picture look like now?
The good news is that the number of applications so far made has risen to 20. The bad news is that it is still the case that no application has emerged from the Planning Act regime yet.
Here is a chart of applications by quarter, where you can see that the trend is definitely upwards, with the most recent quarter having the largest number of applications so far. The average rate of applications is still only one every one and a half months, though.
Click here to view graph.
The most recent application (received by PINS yesterday) is for the uprating of an electricity line in London - the first application in London. it is also the fifth application where Bircham Dyson Bell are acting for the promoter, keeping our hit rate steady at 1/4 of all applications. No other firm can boast even half as many live applications. Just saying.
Here is a quick summary of progress on all 20 applications:
- Rookery South energy from waste - subject to Special Parliamentary Procedure, next meeting 24 October
- Ipswich Rail Chord - awaiting decision by 12 September
- North Doncaster Rail Chord - awaiting decision by 31 October
- Kentish Flats offshore windfarm - awaiting recommendation to Secretary of State by 20 November
- Brechfa Forest onshore windfarm - examination to end by 13 September; parties have recently been asked about the effects of revised Habitats Regulations and a wind turbine noise discussion document
- Hinkley Point C nuclear power station - examination to end by 22 September; comments invited on promoter's 'final form DCO' by 7 September, site visit to take place on 13 September
- Heysham to M6 Link Road - examination to end by 4 October; comments invited on promoter's revised DCO by 6 September, examination likely to finish early on 14 September
- Galloper offshore windfarm - examination to end by 30 November; comments on written representations recently published
- Able marine energy park - examination to end by 24 November; examining authority's second round of questions to be answered by 7 September, first open floor hearing on 5 September
- Preesall gas storage - examination to end by 24 October; parties been asked to comment on the effects of the revised Habitats Regulations by 7 September, further hearings taking place on 18 and 19 September
- Triton Knoll offshore windfarm - examination to end by 23 January 2013; deadline for written representations is 14 September
- East Northants resource management facility - examination to end by 26 January 2013; deadline for written representations is 10 September, including comments on representations made by Cumbria County Council
- Port Blyth biomass project - examination to end by 3 February 2013; deadline for written representations is 26 September
- M1 Junction 10a upgrade - relevant representations can be made until 21 September
- Roosecote biomass project - relevant representations can be made until 7 September
- Kings Lynn B electric line - application accepted on 21 August, awaiting start of representation period
- Fieldes Lock power station - application awaiting acceptance by 11 September
- North London electric line - application awaiting acceptance by 27 September
- Brig y Cwm energy from waste - application withdrawn 24 October 2011
Maesgwyn electric line - application refused 31 August 2010 Although every application has its own issues, it is fascinating to see how consensus is evolving on the way applications are examined, from ironing out kinks in timetabling where deadlines are too close together, timing hearings at the right moment in the written process, issuing requests for comments on common issues (a rash of requests on amendments to the Habitats Regulations, for example), and changes to DCO drafting. The collective body of inspectors are trying things out and learning from each other.
The regime is settling down but could still do with some improvements, which would encourage more applications. Let's hope the apparently forthcoming Economic Regeneration Bill will be the vehicle for these and that Britain will get the infrastructure it so deperately needs.