891: Latest ‘only just’ DCO decision and other news
Today’s entry reports on the decision on the Wheelabrator Kemsley K3 and North facilities DCO application, plus other news.
The application was to build a new energy from waste facility and remove a 49.9MW limit on an existing 70MW capacity facility. In the end only the latter part was granted, so nothing new will be built.
- project: as above, called WK3 and WKN respectively – WKD!
- applicant: WTI/EFW Holdings Ltd, formerly Wheelabrator ;
- application made: 11 September 2019;
- one inspector, Graham Keane (his second);
- 267 relevant representations – above average;
- 6 written representations – low;
- 113 questions in the first round, low;
- no compulsory acquisition hearings, one issue specific hearing and no open floor hearings – the lowest ever;
- two Local Impact Reports, Kent and Swale;
- examination exactly six months, recommendation exactly three months, decision exactly three months;
- 527 days from application to decision, just over 17 months, about average; and
- 453 documents on the Planning Inspectorate web page on the date of the decision (not including the relevant representations) – low average.
The decision letter as always has a couple of points worth mentioning.
The main reason the new facility part of the application was not given consent (which is what the inspector recommended) was that it fell foul of the mineral authority’s (Kent County Council) policies for a waste hierarchy (as mentioned in the Renewable Energy National Policy Statement). As a 42MW capacity facility, s35 of the Planning Act 2008 was used to bring it into the regime. As a result, the inspector and Secretary of State differed on whether the decision should be taken under s105 (without NPS) or s104 (with NPS), the latter deciding the latter.
Unsurprisingly the title of the DCO has been changed from The Wheelabrator Kemsley K3 Generating Station and Wheelabrator Kemsley North Waste-to-Energy Facility Order 20[ ] to The Wheelabrator Kemsley K3 Generating Station Order 2021.
In their annual report Drax has reported that it will not be pursuing the Repower project for which they got a DCO in 2019 and was challenged unsuccessfully in the High Court and Court of Appeal by ClientEarth.
Talking of annual reports, the National Infrastructure Commission have produced their Annual Monitoring Report 2021.
It welcomes the National Infrastructure Strategy that came out late last year and was a response to their National Infrastructure Assessment but does have some criticisms. (What with the announcement of a National Infrastructure Bank I am firmly predicting that every letter of the alphabet will eventually be a National Infrastructure something).
The NIC has the following shopping list: a commitment to give regulators net zero and collaboration duties, a long term plan for urban transport outside London, mechanisms for private funding of net zero technologies, plans for hydrogen and decarbonising heating, an integrated rail plan for the Midlands and the North, an electric charging infrastructure delivery roadmap, no new diesel HGVs beyond 2040, and greater clarity on flood resilience targets. I haven’t cross-checked how many of these correspond to NIA recommendations that the government did not accept, but I suspect some of them do.
Finally, the Planning Inspectorate has reissued Advice Note Fourteen: Compiling the Consultation Report. The advice note isn’t available as PDF, it is just a web page – the shape of things to come.