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03 March 2017

744: North London power project gets consent

Today’s entry reports on the latest Development Consent Order decision.

On 24 February the Government granted development consent for the North London Heat and Power project, the 58th Development Consent Order (DCO) to be issued.

It’s been a while: the last DCO to be issued was on 6 October 2016, symptomatic of the slowdown in applications. Indeed there are now only seven live applications, fewer than at any time since 30 November 2011. The peak, in September 2014, was 27 live applications.

Here are the facts and figures about the latest decision:

  • Project: a power station in Enfield, north London, to be fuelled by waste producing 70MW of electricity and some heat;
  • promoter: the North London Waste Authority;
  • application made: 15 October 2015;
  • one inspector – Paul Hudson (his fifth);
  • 20 relevant representations, very low;
  • 12 written representations – very low;
  • 71 questions in the first round – very low;
  • one compulsory acquisition hearing, two issue specific hearings and two open floor hearings – below average;
  • four Local Impact Report, from Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and the Greater London Authority;
  • examination exactly six months, recommendation exactly three months, decision exactly three months;
  • 498 days from application to decision, 16 1/2 months, about average; and
  • 276 documents on the Planning Inspectorate web page on the date of the decision (not including the relevant representations), very low.

The decision letter can be found here.

The DCO can be found here.

Unusually for an infrastructure project, it was concluded that it would lead to a net loss of jobs because of the existing employment use on the site, but negative socio-economic impacts were not considered to be significant.

The promoter tried to have a seven-year period for compulsory acquisition powers rather than the usual five, but after a couple of exchanges of correspondence settled for five.

This project overlaps with another project that has already been granted a DCO: the North London Reinforcement Project promoted by National Grid. This is not the first time two nationally significant infrastructure projects have overlapped (eg Hornsea One and A160 Improvements), and has been resolved by private agreement between the two parties to which we are not privy.

The government is satisfied that it is not feasible for the plant to provide ‘combined heat and power’ because no-one is near enough to benefit from it.

The decision letter notes the recent change to the forms to be used when advertising that compulsory acquisition powers have been granted, via section 134 of the Planning Act 2008. New forms A and B should be used rather than old form C.

As is becoming common, consultations were held during the three-month decision period – two, in this case. For the first few DCOs nothing happened during the six months between the end of the examination and the decision, but now although the three month recommendation period is still quiet (a good time to go on holiday unless you are the inspector(s)), the three-month decision period is increasingly active.

The usual minor changes to the DCO are listed. One was that it was stated that the project had a minimum output of 70MW, but this was changed to a maximum output of 70MW as that had been environmentally assessed. Note also that references in DCOs to general vesting declarations need to be changed because the Compulsory Purchase (Vesting Declarations) Act 1981 has been amended.

The next decision is due by 8 March, for the Glyn Rhonwy pumped storage project in Wales.

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