The Sizewell C Project
I represent the Suffolk Local Resilience Forum, as established by Section 4 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004(Contingency Planning) Regulations 2005, and wish to seek clarification as to the role of this statutory process with regard to duties under Section 88 of the Planning Act 2008 and Section 3 of The Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties and Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2015.
Specifically I wish to understand within the context of Local Resilience Forum’s not being a statutory party for projects within England, Section 3(2) of the Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties and Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2015 refers, which body will discharge the enduring statutory civil contingency assessments around risk assessment and emergency planning? The Suffolk Local Resilience Forum is monitoring the ongoing activity around the Sizewell C New Nuclear Power Station and wishes to understand its liabilities under the Planning Act and associated regulations and any consultation obligations that fall to EDF Energy as the developer.
Thank you for your email of 23rd November regarding the status of a Local Resilience Forum (LRF) in the Development Consent process. I’ve set out below the legal status of LRFs at the Pre application stage and Post submission of an application.
The Infrastructure Planning (Prescribed Forms and procedures) Regulations do not identify a LRF in England as a prescribed (statutory) consultee during the pre-application stage. However, this does not prevent a developer from exercising their discretion to consult a LRF in the same way as a prescribed consultee under s42 of the Planning Act 2008. We can’t compel them to do this though. The pre application consultation stage should include an opportunity for organisations and individuals to engage with the applicant under s47 of the Planning Act 2008, as part of the wider community consultation.
After the application is submitted, there will be an opportunity for any organisation or individual to register a relevant representation in order to become an “Interested Party” – everyone who registers will get an invitation to the Preliminary Meeting and will have the same status, going forward, as the prescribed consultees. There will be publicity about the registration process at the time and you can also get automatic updates about the Sizewell project by entering your email into “Email Updates” field on the Sizewell project page of National infrastructure Planning website. This facility will only provide updates in relation to the DCO process and not about the EDF’s pre-application consultation activities.
Organisations under Reg 3(1) of The Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties and Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2015 are automatically Interested Parties and so do not need to register. They will also automatically be invited to the Preliminary Meeting. Even so, we advise prescribed consultees to register a relevant representation because this allows their early views about the application to inform the Examining Authority’s initial assessment of issues, which is carried out in advance of the Preliminary Meeting.
The schedule of prescribed organisations includes the relevant County, District or Unitary authorities, HSE, relevant Police and Fire Authorities, the Environment Agency and various NHS bodies. I understand that these organisations form the basis of LRF partnership and as such they will individually and collectively be able to promote the issues of interest to the Suffolk LRF in the absence of any Interested Party registration by you. Suffolk LRF could usefully discuss the areas of concern and interest about the Sizewell project and seek a common position with the members about the best way to promote the LRF’s views in the process. I’m afraid I’m not aware of the reasons why LRFs were removed from the list of prescribed consultees by the 2015 Regulations, which were drafted by DCLG. However, I would assume that inclusion or otherwise on the list does not have any bearing on your duties under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) but you will need to take your own legal advice about that if indeed this is something you are unsure about.
The examination of an application is an inquisitorial process led by a Panel of Examining Inspectors. The onus is on the applicant to prepare a robust application and to make sure they comply with all the necessary legal requirements as they relate to construction and operation of the particular infrastructure. This may involve including specific licences and permits within the Development Consent Order or seeking them separately from the appropriate bodies. In relation to the Sizewell C project, EDF will also need to obtain a Nuclear Site Licence from the Office of Nuclear Regulation. That Licencing process is separate and will deal with matters of Nuclear safety, the transport of nuclear waste and materials and the safety of people. I’m not familiar with the detail of that process or the role of LRFs in it.