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05 December 2017

780: Kent highway project gets consent and a Christmas champagne competition

Today’s entry reports on the latest Development Consent Order, plus a competition.

M20 Junction 10A

The most recent decision on a Development Consent Order (DCO) application was made on Friday, nearly four months after the previous one.

Here are the facts and figures:

  • Project: a new junction 10A on the M20 in Kent near Ashford;
  • Promoter: Highways England;
  • Application made: 11 August 2016;
  • One inspector: Mike Ebert (his third);
  • 45 relevant representations, below average;
  • 11 written representations, below average;
  • 302 questions in the first round – high;
  • One compulsory acquisition hearing, two issue specific hearings and two open floor hearings – average;
  • One Local Impact Report, from Kent and Ashford jointly;
  • Examination exactly six months, recommendation one day less than three months, decision exactly three months;
  • 500 days from application to decision, 15 1/2 months, about average; and
  • 539 documents on the Planning Inspectorate web page on the date of the decision (not including the relevant representations), average.

A few paragraphs of the decision letter were devoted to air quality and the changing UK Air Quality Plan. Although the local area stays well below the legal thresholds for NO2 before and after construction of the project, the interpretation of a test in the National Networks National Policy Statement (NPS) is useful. The test is:

‘where a development would affect the ability of a non-compliant area to achieve compliance within the most recent timescales reported to the European Commission at the time of the decision’ (part of paragraph 5.13 of the NPS)

And the interpretation is:

‘the Development will not affect the worst link in the zone and will not cause any link to become the worst link’ (part of paragraph 25 of the decision letter)

A particular impact on a Grade I listed building was determined to be outweighed by the benefits of the project. Care should be taken that the benefits outweigh not just a particular adverse impact but all adverse impacts combined.

The Environment Agency had disagreed with three aspects of the drafting of protective provisions for them. In summary they won on two points and lost on the third. This constituted the only significant difference with the promoter’s proposed DCO drafting.

A lot of the protection in the DCO is contained in the requirement to produce a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP), so the wording of that is worth studying.

The next DCO decision is not due until May 2018, and that’s the twice delayed decision on the Silvertown Tunnel project, which if made will be only one of three decisions due in the whole of next year.

Christmas competition

Here is the eighth and latest Planning Act themed Christmas competition, ideal for when you gather round the fire discussing the Planning Act 2008 over the festive season. This year’s is – apparently – short and sweet: a cryptogram, in homage to the GCHQ Puzzle Book competition. Once you have worked out what I am looking for, please email me by the closing date of Friday 5 January 2018. The prize is a bottle of champagne, the winner being drawn at random from any correct answers received by the deadline. If there are no correct answers, I get to drink it myself. Here is the cryptogram:

Slyy acdl! Dcs ncr uel ewra owru. Uelrl wrl wdcuelr usc quloq uc qcytl uel omxxyl nmyyi.

Good luck. Bribes are considered, DCO instructions preferred.

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