The Sizewell C Project
General request for more detailed information about the EIA Scoping Process and the identification of non prescribed consultees following a meeting between Mark Southgate (Director of Major Applications and Plans - PINS) and Philip North (Parliamentary Assistant to Dr Therese Coffey MP) and Dr Therese Coffey MP
We promised to provide some further information and clarification after the meeting. I hope the attached information is helpful.
1) the prescribed and non-prescribed consultation bodies for a Secretary of State?s scoping opinion
The scoping process is about identifying what needs to be included in an Environmental Statement (ES) and which bodies can assist a developer due to the information they may hold.
As discussed at our meeting, the process for consultation to inform a scoping opinion issued by the Secretary of State is set out under statute. The Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, is required to consult prescribed consultation bodies. These bodies are defined under Regulation 2 of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009 (as amended) as bodies:
? prescribed under section 42(a) of the Planning Act 2008 (as amended) (?the PA 2008?) and listed in column 1 of the table in Schedule 1 of the Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009 (as amended) (the ?APFP Regulations?) ? subject to certain tests, referred to as the ?relevance test? and ?circumstances test?, which are explained below;
? local authorities under section 43 of the PA 2008; and
? where the land to which the application relates is in Greater London, the Greater London Authority.
For certain consultation bodies, the Secretary of State has no discretion and must consult in all cases. In other cases, discretion must be exercised. This is undertaken by adopting a ?relevance test? and/or by deciding whether certain circumstances apply (the ?circumstances test?). In addition, in a limited number of circumstances, the Planning Inspectorate has also identified some non-prescribed consultation bodies. These bodies are not prescribed under s.42(a) of the PA 2008. Therefore, the developer has no requirement to consult with them in order to meet their statutory pre-application consultation obligations (see Advice Note 16 described below). Such bodies have been identified by the Planning Inspectorate as having relevant functions and responsibilities, relevant to the preparation of the ES. These non-prescribed consultation bodies are explained in Advice Note 3 (see link below).
2) Scoping consultation undertaken in relation to Sizewell C Proposed Nuclear Development
Table 1 of the appendix to Advice Note 3 sets out the consultation bodies (as identified on Schedule 1 of the APFP Regulations) that are to be consulted by the Secretary of State following a valid scoping request at all times, together with the circumstances tests that apply to each consultation body. In relation to Sizewell C, the Planning Inspectorate received notification on 21 November 2012. Where a notification is provided prior to 6 April 2013 (as in the case of the Sizewell C project), the ?relevance test? which must be applied where the prescribed consultee is described, for example, as ?the relevant parish council?, is defined as:
?relevant?, in relation to a body, shall mean the body which has responsibility for the location where the proposals may or will be sited or has responsibility for an area which neighbours that location?.
In our meeting, Dr Coffey raised specific queries regarding the identification and consultation with parish councils and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). The ?B? parish council is the relevant parish council in which the proposed development and associated development is located. The ?A? parish council is the neighbouring council, which share a boundary with the ?B? parish council. Therefore, in relation to the Sizewell C project, based on the proposed location of the main development site and the associated development as shown on Figure 1.1.1 in the developer?s scoping report, the following ?A? and ?B? parish councils were identified:
?B? parish councils (where the main development site and associated development would be located)
? Benhall and Sternfield
? Farnham with Stratford St Andrew
? Leiston cum Sizewell
? Theberton and Eastbridge
?A? parish councils (share a boundary with the ?B? parish councils identified above)
? Bramfield and Thorington
? Campsea Ashe
? Great Glemham
? Kelsale cum Carlton
? Little Glemham
? Wickham Market
In respect of your query regarding consultation with the RNLI, this body has been identified by the Planning Inspectorate as a non-prescribed consultation body, as explained above. The RNLI fall to a limited category of bodies, with both statutory and non-statutory responsibilities, in relation to the marine environment under a legal obligation that the UK Government has for maritime search and rescue within the UK. This is derived from the UK Government?s adherence to international conventions including: The Convention on the Law of the Sea; the Convention on Safety of Life at Sea; the Maritime Search and Rescue Convention; and the Convention on International Civil Aviation. As explained in Section 3 of Advice Note 3, the RNLI are consulted by the Secretary of State where the following circumstances test is met: ?all proposed applications where there is any offshore element?.
Therefore, in relation to Sizewell C, as the description of the proposed development in the developer?s scoping report includes offshore elements such as a temporary jetty and cooling water intake and outfall tunnels, it was considered that the circumstances test had been met and it was appropriate to consult the RNLI.
3) Advice Notes
The following Planning Inspectorate Advice Notes may be of assitance to you.
Advice Note 3: EIA Consultation and Notification
Advice Note 3 explains the approach taken by the Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) to identifying the relevant prescribed bodies and other bodies (referred to as ?non-prescribed consultation bodies?), to be notified by the Secretary of State that an Environmental Statement (ES) will be provided with an application for a proposed Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
Advice Note 3: attachment 1
Supporting appendix: attachment 2
Advice Note 7: Screening, Scoping and Preliminary Environmental Information
Advice Note 7 explains the information to be included in the developer?s screening and scoping requests made to the Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State); notification and consultation with the prescribed and non-prescribed consultation bodies (which should be read in conjunction with Advice Note 3 above); the publication of screening and scoping opinions by the Planning Inspectorate; and understanding the role of preliminary environmental information.
Advice Note 7: attachment 3
Advice Note 8: How to Get Involved in the Planning Process
This is a suite of five Advice Notes that provide a step-by-step guide to getting involved in the national infrastructure planning process: attachment 4
4) Opportunities to participate in the pre-application stage
We understand from our discussions that you may wish to provide a response to the developer?s scoping report for the Sizewell C project. If so, we would advise that you address any such comments to the developer directly. We encourage developers to consult with as wide a range of bodies as they deem appropriate during the pre-application stage, including whilst preparing the ES. You are welcome to copy such comments to the Planning Inspectorate for information. However, this would not form part of the Secretary of State?s scoping opinion.
You should also note that if we provide any advice on making representations about Sizewell C, in response to your comments, this would be classed as section 51 advice under the Planning Act 2008 (as amended). We are required to publish this advice, along with a copy of your comments, on our website. This advice would also be made available on the Sizewell C project webpage of the Planning Portal.
Although this response is more lengthy than that which I would normally provide, given Dr Coffey?s detailed concerns about the process and her continuing wish to be involved in the project I hope this information is helpful.
Director of Major Applications and Plans