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Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Planning Act 2008 / 793: Shortest examination and inspector resigns

Today’s entry reports on miscellaneous news on live Development Consent Order applications.

Although my prediction of eight DCO applications this year was seen as unduly pessimistic, the first quarter of the year has gone by without any having been made. Here is some news on the six applications that are somewhere between their application and decision.

Silvertown Tunnel

The application that was made the longest ago was for a new road tunnel under the Thames in east London. The three-month decision period was extended first by one month and then by six months, and a decision is now due to be taken by 10 May 2018.

The Department for Transport has just launched its seventh consultation during the 10-month decision period, this one just for project promoter Transport for London to comment on the 25 responses that were received during the sixth consultation, which was on a revised air quality assessment and emission factor toolkit.

Given that the court has not thrown out the London part of the latest national air quality plan, there is a bit more stability in terms of the measures that need to be undertaken in the capital, which should help.

Eggborough power station

The examination into this DCO for a new power station in North Yorkshire closed on 27 March, taking the full six months available. The recommendation period is probably the quietest for everyone except the examining authority and in this case must end on or before 27 June 2018. Not much to report except that Eggborough has nothing to do with eggs, but relates to a fortification belonging to someone called Ecga.

A19 Testo’s Junction

This is a highway project near Sunderland. First note that the project now has an apostrophe (because the junction in question was at the site of the garage of a Mr Testo). Rather more importantly, the examination into this DCO closed one day earlier than the above, on 26 March, breaking the record for the shortest examination at 132 days, or about 4½ months.

The record was previously held by the A160 Immingham improvement project, and I am glad to say that this firm acted both for the new record-holder and the old one (and of course delighted that my colleague Tom Henderson has taken the crown from me as leading the relevant legal team, as I’m not the least bit competitive). Tips for speedy examinations? That would be telling, but sorting out as many issues as possible as early as possible is highly recommended, as is excellent and decisive project management and a client who is up for speed.

Millbrook power station

This is an application for a new power station in Bedfordshire. The project has only recently had its preliminary meeting on 13 March, so is just embarking on its examination, with the first main deadline for written representations and answers to questions being on 17 April.

Despite its proximity to the first ever DCO application, for the Rookery South energy from waste project, the preliminary meeting was not held in the same place in Bedford, but in the rather more rural setting of the Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine. I think there should be a plaque outside the Park Inn, Bedford, to mark the first ever Planning Act-related meeting, which took place on 17 January 2011.

One issue that has come up on this topic is whether this DCO can amend the Rookery South one. It is currently unresolved but the tone of the question is that PINS think it can’t. I disagree.

Tilbury2 port improvement

This project, to expand the Port of Tilbury on the north bank of the Thames east of London, is also at a fairly early stage, having had its preliminary meeting on 20 February. The main bit of news is that the lead inspector of the three-person panel, Dr Lillian Harrison, has tendered her resignation, veteran inspector Paul Hudson (who examined the Rookery South project) has been appointed to the panel and existing panel member Mike Ebert has been appointed as lead inspector. No reason has been given.

This is the second time a lead inspector has resigned during an examination, the other time being when Gideon Amos took leave of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon examination after about four months. In that case he was not replaced, there being four other inspectors, and existing inspector Simon Gibbs was appointed as lead. Lillian Harrison was also a member of that panel, incidentally.

Tees power station

The most recent application to be made, on 22 November 2017, will have its preliminary meeting next week, on 10 April. A mere 12 relevant representations were lodged on the application.

Pausing for a moment, it is worth noting the variability in the time between an application being made and the preliminary meeting being held, the one part of the application timetable that is largely in the hands of the promoter. The six applications above have taken between 112 (Tilbury2) and 161 (Silvertown) days, a difference of nearly two months. The shortest to date has been 102 days for the A19 Coast Road project. Speed merchants should note that this is an area that can be sped up largely within the applicant’s control.

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