Enquiry received via email

Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

10 July 2017
Eversheds Sutherland - Morag Thomson


Para 4.27 states that “All projects should be subject to an options appraisal” but then goes on to say that the appraisal “should consider viable modal alternatives”. The remainder of the paragraph cross refers to paragraphs 3.23 and 3.27 which deal with road and rail schemes and then contains further text which also is only referable to road and rail schemes.
Given that the whole purpose of the SRFI scheme is to provide a modal alternative, and given the exclusive application of the majority of the text in paragraph 4.27 to road and rail schemes (not RFI) we have come to the conclusion that this paragraph is not aimed at schemes such as ours. Accordingly we do not propose to include an options appraisal considering viable modal alternatives in our application documentation.
I would be grateful if you could indicate any disagreement with the above as soon as possible.

Advice given

It will be for the Secretary of State to decide on basis of the facts of any application in respect of the proposed Northampton Gateway SRFI whether and, if so, to what extent, the appraisal required by paragraph 4.27 of the National Networks NPS is required in respect of that scheme or part of that scheme. If the applicant considers that it does not apply in the case of that scheme then it should set out its reasoning clearly in its consideration of the policy context of the scheme. You will no doubt be aware of how the Secretary of State considered para. 4.27 in the case of the East Midlands Gateway Rail Freight Interchange but will understand that that reasoning was based on the specific facts of that application.
Paragraph 4.27 of NPSNN has not been considered by the Courts and there is no authoritative legal interpretation of this on which one can rely. Clarification/ interpretation of Government policy does not fall within the remit of the Planning Inspectorate and therefore we are unable to advise you in this matter further, however if you wish to pursue the matter further we would advise you to contact the Department for Transport (DfT) with your query.