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This week’s entry considers DCO decision delays and has the results of the Christmas champagne competition.

Happy new year to all our readers! May 2023 bring you prosperity and laughter.

DCO decision delays

New year, new delays. The first two decisions due in 2023 have both been delayed. First, the A47 Wansford to Sutton project was due to be decided on 11 January 2023 but on 9 January 2023, transport minister Huw Merriman issued a statement saying that it had been delayed until 17 February 2023, ‘to allow for further consultation on a number of outstanding issues and to allow sufficient time for the analysis of responses to the consultation’.

Then the (already delayed) Boston Alternative Energy project was due to be decided on 10 January 2023 and on that day Secretary of State Grant Shapps issued a statement saying that it had been further delayed until 6 July 2023, ‘to enable my Department to seek further information from the Applicant and to ensure there is sufficient time to allow for consideration of this information by other interested parties’. Methinks they have been colluding on the wording of their statements.

These delays are against a backdrop of a busy year, in prospect, for infrastructure planning. More details of the government’s plan to speed up the regime are likely to emerge, given the target date of this September. Reform of the environmental impact assessment regime will continue to take shape via the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, now being considered by the House of Lords, as will biodiversity net gain, enacted in the Environment Act 2021, which is targeted to become a legal obligation for planning permissions (but not yet DCOs) in November 2023. Surely, revisions of national policy statements, particularly energy and national networks, are imminent having not progressed at all in 2022. The government needs to match its ambitions in this area with its actions.

Other news

Meanwhile it has been announced that the A57 Link Road project, decided on 16 November 2022, is subject to a judicial review by the CPRE. The main grounds appear to be the carbon impact (as usual) and that there were not ‘very special circumstances’ to justify building on the green belt, but I have only seen press reports.

This is on top of existing challenges to three A47 DCOs and the Black Cat DCO, awaiting hearings or judgments.

Competition results

Thank to you to all who took part in the competition, we hope you enjoyed it. The answers were as follows.

Planning Act blog competition answers

This then became a wordsearch for DCO project-related words.

The ten words I had deliberately inserted into the grid were: Lower (Thames Crossing), line 1, Cleve (Hill), line 2, Testo (‘s junction, the plural I mentioned), line 3, Hynet (CO2 pipeline), line 5, Coal (House), line 6, Derby (Junctions), line 8, York (potash), line 9, Easton (A47), column 2, Glyn (Rhonwy), column 5, Crow (Little), column 8, Tees (CCPP), diagonal from third row.

But intrepid solvers also found East within Easton, Net within Hynet and smaller words such as and, to, as, in and even y which do all appear in project names on the PINS website.

The winner with 17 words was Joseph Hough from Suffolk County Council, congratulations!

Please keep reading our blog, we are planning an event to coincide with the 1000th entry, so watch out for that in particular.

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