Rather than keep trying via the phone, here are the points that I wanted to discuss with you. I have converted them into questions below for ease. My questions do not seem to be answerable from the advice notes 8.3 or the faq on your website.
Firstly, as you may be aware, I am contacting you on behalf of the N2RS Committee. My job is to deal with processes, timescales and procedures.
With a membership of around 1000, N2RS is continuing to track the progress of the Vanguard Project. Our supporters cover mainly North Norfolk and include others from further afield.
We are working co-operatively with local authority elected Members, our local MP Norman Lamb and landowner representatives.
It is our intention to continue a close watching brief on the progress of the project and to campaign where necessary. We have several media platforms running (N2RS website, Facebook and Twitter).
Given that the likely acceptance of the application will occur in July 2018, we wish to ask you for help with our scheduling and forward planning specifically to avoid the issue of people with an interest in the procedures being away because of the summer holiday period. We also have people working in the tourism business. The questions we have are as follows:
Q Roughly when will the time-limited period to register online as an Interested Party be given the proximity to the summer holiday season?
Q If N2RS registers as a single organisation, how many core committee members will be allowed to attend the preliminary/subsequent meetings?
Q Are there any objections to multiple applications from N2RS should that be necessary in order to have attendance at meetings?
Q Roughly when can we expect the preliminary meeting to be scheduled? (we are asking because the written advice suggests that only about 3 weeks’ notice is given).
Q Ditto the subsequent meeting(s).
Thank you for your email, apologies we kept missing each other on the telephone.
I have responded to your queries in the order you have raised them;
1. Should the application be accepted for the Examination, the Applicant has a duty to advertise the Relevant Representations period and provide details about how to register to become an Interested Party. The registration period must be at least 28 days and the publicity notice will clearly tell you when the deadline is. The easiest way to become an Interested Party is to complete the form online via the project’s page of the National Infrastructure Planning website. Depending on the date of when the application is accepted (the Secretary of State has a deadline of 28 days from receipt of application to make this decision so if this is received at the end of June, the acceptance decision wouldn’t be made until the end of July). If accepted, the Applicant is then required to certify compliance and notify of the acceptance which is when they will provide the period for registering relevant representations. The Applicant may consider and impact of this over the holiday period and provide a longer period for registration but please note there is no requirement for them to do so.
Some people will automatically become an Interested Party because they are landowners or have an interest in land affected by the application. This information will be provided in a Book of Reference supplied by the Applicant. They will be notified throughout the application process, but are also welcome to register via a Relevant Representation form so that their views can be made available to the Examining Authority at an early stage.
2. There is no limit on the number of N2RS core committee members that can attend the Preliminary Meeting or any subsequent hearings. However, in order to accommodate all Interested Parties and any members of the public wishing to attend the events, we would appreciate if you could inform us well in advance of those people who wish to attend. Details of this will be requested from anyone who has registered at the time. The agendas for all events will be published around seven days beforehand and that will allow N2RS members to decide if attending the hearing will be beneficial to them.
3. There is no requirement to provide multiple representations from N2RS in order to attend the hearings as if N2RS registers as an Interested Party, then it will be able to fully participate in the examination process: submit written representations and provide comments on all application documents and other documents submitted by other parties, respond to the Examining Authority’s written questions on behalf of N2RS. If members of the N2RS however wish to be individually recognised as an Interested Party in their own capacity then they will need to register a relevant representation separately which must include a summary of points which they agree and/or disagree with about the application, highlighting what they consider to be the main issues and impacts.
4. The formal notification of the Preliminary Meeting will be issued at least 21 days before its date, in a letter called the Rule 6 letter. The Preliminary Meeting marks the end of the formal pre-examination stage. However, that stage lasts around three months to allow the Applicant and the Inspectorate to fulfil their statutory duties.
5. The draft Examination timetable will also be issued in the Rule 6 letter and this will set out when the dates for the ExA’s procedural decisions, deadlines for written submissions etc, along with the dates of any hearings and site inspections scheduled to take place during the 6 month examination. The finalised Examination timetable will then be issued around 7 days after the close of the Preliminary Meeting. The agendas for individual hearings will be published nearer the time and usually around 7 days before the hearings.
If you have not already done so, you might find it helpful to view the online videos we have available explaining the DCO application process.
Please note, in accordance with Section 51 of the PA2008, a copy of your email and our advice will be published on the Norfolk Vanguard project’s webpage of the National Infrastructure Website.