East Anglia ONE Offshore Windfarm
Promoters for the East Anglia Offshore Windfarm (East Anglia ONE), currently at pre-application, sought advice from the Planning Inspectorate on their approach to include cable ducting as part of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) application.
The Planning Inspectorate's response was by email.
I write with reference to recent discussions and your letters of 23 April and 26 June 2012 seeking our view on your proposed approach to including cable ducting for future projects in the East Anglia Round 3 Zone as associated development within your forthcoming application for East Anglia ONE. We have noted the contents of your letter and our discussions and advise accordingly.
Firstly, we recognise the intention of your approach, that being to include ducting for future projects thereby seeking to avoid prolonging the potential impact of construction activities and overall land take, and we acknowledge that it is borne from the results of consultation with the local community, stakeholders, landowners and local authorities.
Our understanding is that you propose to include one of two possible approaches within the application for East Anglia ONE, although in both cases your intention is to include the ducting for three projects in the application for East Anglia ONE as associated development:
1.East Anglia ONE, THREE and FOUR to be treated broadly as an ?over arching? Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), referred to in your earlier correspondence as the Bramford-connected NSIP, with each particular project being treated as an individual phase within that but to be the subject of separate applications;
2.To treat the application for East Anglia ONE as a single NSIP, albeit including the ducting for all three projects, and to treat East Anglia THREE and FOUR as separate NSIPs in their own right.
We have reservations with your first approach, mainly due to the interpretation of ?principal development?, and how this sits with what is proposed in paragraph 6(iv) of the DCLG draft guidance on associated development. It is our view that the ?principal development? is the development for which development consent is being presently sought pursuant to s.115(1)(a), and required under s.31, being development which is or forms part of an NSIP. In this regard, we note that paragraph 6(iv)(b) of the consultation draft guidance draws a distinction between this 'principal development' and "other development that the Secretary of State may reasonably expect to be the subject of an application for development consent within five years of the application at hand being made".
Further, we query the approach of an ?over arching NSIP? (containing in this case three phases) and whether this is consistent with the threshold in s.15 and the provisions of s.31 and s.115(1)(a) as each phase would be an NSIP in its own right by virtue of exceeding the threshold for an offshore generating station. It is of course possible for an application to include more than one NSIP, for example a generating station and an overhead power line,
however this approach would in effect be three separate applications for individual projects and submitted at different times.
In respect of your second approach it is our view that this would appear to be broadly consistent with the proposals contained within the DCLG consultation on draft revised guidance dealing with associated development. We do however recognise your concerns that uncertainty remains as to when this might be published in a finalised form, and what in fact may be included within it.
Furthermore, we also recognise the concerns you have in making a compelling case for compulsory acquisition if you were to include the ducting for all three projects in the application for East Anglia ONE as associated development, and some of the land required could only be acquired compulsorily. Despite this, it is our view that should the wording in paragraph 6(iv) of the draft associated development guidance become formal guidance then this would provide a steer as to Government policy in this regard i.e. that in certain circumstances the inclusion of such development is acceptable. You may find this to be of assistance when justifying the inclusion of compulsory acquisition powers in the draft DCO.
You may also wish to make representations to DCLG, if you have not done so already, in relation to the wording of the consultation draft guidance on compulsory acquisition under the Planning Act 2008 regime.
Irrespective of the approach you decide to follow, we would advise you to ensure that you satisfy yourselves that the consultation and publicity you have conducted for the purposes of sections 42, 47 and 48 clearly reflects your proposed approach. It is our view that should you elect to pursue the first approach you should ensure that consultation material has made it sufficiently clear to consultees of your intention to develop an ?overarching NSIP?.
We note that within your recent phase 2 consultation material you referred to the projects as the ?Bramford-connected offshore arrays? rather than as a ?Bramford-connected NSIP? or an ?over arching NSIP?. As noted above, we would advise that, whatever approach you take in describing the project, it is clearly and consistently described in pre-application consultation and publicity. You should also ensure that, whatever approach you take in describing the project in pre-application consultation and publicity this is clearly explained in your Consultation Report. In addition, you should ensure that the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the draft Development Consent Order (DCO) clearly explains the approach adopted, and that the DCO is consistent with that approach.
I trust that this clarifies our position in respect of this matter.