This article sets out the steps of the planning process for Sizewell C
We are currently at “Pre application ” during which edf are supposed to disseminate their initial plans, gather opinions about them from local members of the public and then refine the plans in response to the feedback. As part of this process, EDF held a stage 1 consultation in 2013. The responses from Leiston Town Council and from some TASC members and can be found on the left.
The Pre Application requires EDF to prepare an Environmental Statement. This involves providing information about the development to various statutory bodies who can then comment on the proposals. This information is sent to the secretary of state who sets out a scoping opinion in respect of the content of the Environmental Statement. The scoping opinion identifies the topic areas that have to be covered by EDF during the application.
The information set out below was copied from a pdf available on the infrastructure planning portal. A copy can be downloaded from here
The Planning Inspectorate and nationally significant infrastructure projects
The planning process for dealing with proposals for nationally significant infrastructure projects, or ‘NSIPs’ involves an examination of major proposals relating to energy, transport, water, waste and waste water, and includes opportunities for people to have their say before a decision is made by the relevant Secretary of State. The Planning Inspectorate carries out certain functions related to national infrastructure planning
The application process involves six steps:
Pre-application (THIS IS THE STAGE WE ARE CURRENTLY IN WITH SIZEWELL C)
Before submitting an application, the developer is required to carry out extensive consultation on their proposals. This involves providing information about the proposal to various statutory and non statutory bodies and the wider community, responding to questions, listening to suggestions, and taking these into account to influence and inform the application ultimately submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. This does not mean that the developer has to accept or agree with every comment or suggestion made but they must give them proper consideration. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on the project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity. Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it or believe it could be improved. This is also the best time to make any suggestions to the developer about how the impacts of a project could be mitigated.
The acceptance stage begins when a developer submits a formal application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate. There follows a period of up to 28 days for the relevant Secretary of State to consider whether or not the application meets the standards required to be formally accepted for examination. The Secretary of State’s decision on whether or not to accept an application is based on a number of legal criteria, including whether or not the applicant’s consultation has been adequate, when considered against the statutory tests
If an application is formally accepted by the Secretary of State The applicant is required to publicise the fact that their application has been accepted and the arrangements for making representations about it. If you want to ensure that your views about a project are considered by the Examining Authority, you first need to register with the Planning Inspectorate. Representations should relate specifically to the project and its impacts. A representation may not be accepted if the registration form is incomplete or submitted after the deadline. Valid representations received during the registration period are known as ‘relevant representations’. At least 28 days will be provided for people to register. The Examining Authority may disregard representations which are vexatious or frivolous, or deal with the merits of matters of national policy, contained in National Policy Statements (NPSs). NPSs have already been the subject of consultation and parliamentary approval and it is not the role of the examination to debate the merits of national policy People who register by the deadline and make a valid representation to the Planning Inspectorate become ‘interested parties’ in the application. As an interested party, you will be invited to take part in relevant stages of the examination. After the close of the registration period, the Examining Authority has up to 21 days to review the application and all relevant representations and identify the principal issues for examination. Following this, the Planning Inspectorate invites all interested parties to attend a meeting, known as the Preliminary Meeting. This is chaired by the Examining Authority and is held to consider how the application will be examined. The meeting may include questions and answers about the key issues that will need to be examined, the timetable for the examination and other important organisational details. However, the merits or otherwise of the application will not be discussed at the meeting, which is purely procedural. Following the Preliminary Meeting, the Examining Authority will issue a procedural decision including the timetable for the various stages of the examination
The Examining Authority has a statutory duty to complete its examination within 6 months after the last day of the Preliminary Meeting. The examination is a formal legal process, during which careful consideration is given to all the important and relevant matters, including the representations of all interested parties.
The Secretary of State’s decision.
The Examining Authority must prepare a report on the application to the relevant Secretary of State, including a recommendation, within 3 months of the end of the examination. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.
Once a decision has been issued on behalf of the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.