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03 January 2020

849: Review of 2019, outlook for 2020 and competition solution

Happy 2020 to all our readers! I hope you had a restful break.

Review of 2019

2019 was a busy year for the Planning Act regime in terms of projects; less busy when it came to policy and legislation.

The year saw 15 applications made for nationally significant infrastructure projects – down from 21 in 2018, but still a healthy number.

Just seven applications were decided last year, partly due to the lack of applications in 2017, and partly due to the government postponing a clutch of decisions to this year.

One National Policy Statement was designated, that for geological disposal of nuclear waste, on 17 October.

The only amendments made to the Planning Act 2008 during the year were those tweaking the thresholds for water projects, which were made on 9 January 2019.

Litigation related to the Planning Act 2008 regime was as follows. In May, the High Court dismissed multiple claims made against the designation of the Airports National Policy Statement (reported in two separate judgments here and here, which was then appealed to the Court of Appeal. In July 2019, the High Court dismissed a claim by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust challenging the choice of route corridor for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which will be authorised under the 2008 Act. In November 2019, the Court of Appeal dismissed a claim by BACI Bedfordshire Ltd contesting the award of an environmental permit for the Rookery South project, the first ever to be consented under the 2008 Act.

Outlook for 2020

2020 should be a bumper year for decisions with 24 due, the most ever in a single year. The government do need to get timings back on track following the election, though (and a couple of non-election-related delays before that). Some big applications are expected too, such as for the Lower Thames Crossing and Luton Airport expansion. The Heathrow Airport expansion has been delayed, however.

This year should also, finally, see the publication of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, in response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s National Infrastructure Assessment. This is now due to coincide with the budget, which is expected next month. That will make it a mere seven months late beyond the year after the publication of the NIA it was supposed to take.

One last National Policy Statement should get designated, that for water resources, where the publication of the final version was supposed to have happened last autumn. Whether there will be a review of any of the others, whether voluntarily or as a result of litigation, remains to be seen. The energy NPSs will celebrate their ninth birthdays this year.

Still no business or commercial applications, but I am ever more hopeful that one will be made this year given that I am working on one.

Christmas competition

And finally, the competition answers! First, the answers to the nine more straightforward questions:

  1. A word or phrase that is the same forwards and backwards (10) PALINDROME
  2. River that runs through Leeds (4) AIRE
  3. Tallest rollercoaster in the UK, in Blackpool (3,3) BIG ONE
  4. Bridge convention named after a street in NW6 (4) ACOL
  5. Town at north end of HS2 phase 2a (5) CREWE
  6. Width of a bridge (4) SPAN
  7. Fast reaction matching card game (4) SNAP
  8. Joseph Bazalgette built one (5) SEWER
  9. NSIP – see below
  10. Spanish national airline (6) IBERIA

I got quite a few answers with those nine questions correct, but not many with Q9 correct. The clue to finding the NSIP was the first answer. You had to find the NSIP that made answers 2-10 a palindrome, which meant it had to be Clocaenog (Aire Big One Acol Crewe Span Snap Sewer Clocaenog Iberia).

The first name out of the virtual hat was Sharon Woodruff of Jacobs. Congratulations, Sharon, and thank you to everyone who participated.

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