The Sizewell C Project
Please see attached
As you are aware the proposed application is at the Pre-application stage of the PA2008 process. The Planning Inspectorate is unable to consider representations about the merits of any application or supporting documentation during Pre-application. At this stage any concerns about the Applicant’s Pre-application consultation should be directed to the Applicant in the first instance to enable them to address the issues. Where the Applicant has been contacted and you are not satisfied that the Applicant has, or will, take account of the comments, then the comments should be made to the relevant local authority. The local authorities can consider these comments as part of their Adequacy of Consultation Representation submission to the Planning Inspectorate during the Acceptance stage of the application process. The Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) will consider any Adequacy of Consultation representations received from the relevant local authorities when deciding whether or not to accept the application, as required under section 55(4)(b) of the PA2008. You have also raised an issue in relation to the standards to be met for Acceptance of an application for development consent, notably in regard to the Environmental Statement (ES). The standards for Acceptance of an application for development consent are set out in Section 55 of the PA2008 and Regulations 5 and 6 of the Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009. The Acceptance process is for the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide whether or not the application meets the standard required to be examined. Where an application is accepted for Examination, consideration of the planning merits of the scheme are then matters for the appointed Examining Authority (ExA) (in making their recommendation) and the Secretary of State in determining whether or not development consent should be granted. Regulation 14 of The Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (EIA Regulations) sets out the information which an ES accompanying a Development Consent Order (DCO) application must include. Amongst the requirements is a reference to the inclusion of additional information specified in Schedule 4 of the EIA Regulations where relevant to the specific characteristics of the particular development or type of development and to the environmental features likely to be significantly affected. The requirements of Schedule 4 of the EIA Regulations will be considered carefully by the Planning Inspectorate at the point of submission of the DCO application to ensure that any accompanying ES is adequate and complies with the minimum requirements of the EIA Regulations. . In reaching a decision as to whether an application is of a satisfactory standard, the Secretary of State must have regard to (inter alia) the extent to which the applicant has followed any applicable guidance given under section 37(4) of PA2008 (section 55(5A)(b)). For example, paragraph 6 of the DCLG Application Form Guidance (2008) states that ‘the application information must be provided to a sufficient degree of detail that will enable the Secretary of State (and all interested parties) to appropriately consider the proposal’. The EIA Regulations make provisions for ‘further information’ to be requested by the ExA or the Secretary of State where they consider such information necessary in order to reach a reasoned conclusion on the significant effects of the development on the environment. You have also requested that certain legal and policy developments should inform the Pre-examination process and have stated that funding matters should be publicly examined. The process for deciding an application and the criteria for assessment are clearly set out in Chapter 5 of the PA2008. This specifies the matters to which the Secretary of State must have regard when he/she determines whether or not development consent should be granted. It is important to note that the appointed ExA has a duty to assess and test a range of issues during an Examination and examine against the relevant international, national and local planning policy context and legislative framework. It is for the ExA to decide how to examine an application. The appointed ExA are required to make an initial assessment of the principle issues arising on the application during the Pre-examination stage of the PA2008 process. When making this assessment the ExA will have regard to the content of all the Relevant Representations submitted by those who have registered to become an Interested Party With regards to the preparation of any Statements of Common Ground, the Planning Inspectorate has held meetings with some of the relevant Statutory Parties and the Applicant and discussed these matters. Notes of the meetings held are available to view on the project page of the National Infrastructure Planning website: attachment 1 Applicants are advised that, should the application be accepted, then they should aim to have reached an initial agreement of common ground with relevant statutory consultees in the Pre-examination period before the Preliminary Meeting (PM) is held. Following the PM the ExA will publish an Examination Timetable that will set deadlines for the completion of draft and final Statements of Common Ground between parties. Finally, with regards to consultation, when making a decision on whether or not an application can be accepted the Secretary of State will consider the consultation report submitted with the application. He/she will consider the consultation process undertaken by the Applicant and if the consultation report adequately sets out how the Applicant has taken account of any responses.