Thames Tideway Tunnel
Concerns about Thames Water's pre-application consultation in respect of the duties set out in the Planning Act 2008.
Thames Tunnel and the IPC
The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is the independent body responsible for handling applications for new infrastructure development that is deemed to be of national significance. The Thames Tunnel project is not currently classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), because the legislation which governs our work (the Planning Act 2008, 'the Act') does not currently include a category of project which consists of a waste water storage and transfer tunnel. However, Ministerial statements from both the previous and present Government have indicated the intention to amend the Act in order that the proposed Thames Tunnel will be considered by the IPC. It is understood that this will be achieved by an Order made by the Secretary of State (SoS) under Section 14(3) of the Act which will add ?waste water storage and transfer tunnel? to the list of projects which are NSIPs.
Whilst the Thames Tunnel is not currently an NSIP, Thames Water intends to ?shadow? so far as it can the pre-application procedures which must be carried out in accordance with the Act. The IPC has provided advice to Thames Water about applying for an order granting development consent under s.51 of the Act.
We note your concerns about the community consultation being carried out by Thames Water and will hold them on file. Thames Water are currently shadowing the 'pre-application' stage of our process. During the pre-application stage, there is a duty on the developer to publicise the proposed application and consult with people living in the vicinity of the proposed project, and with other statutory consultees, and have regard to any relevant responses to that publicity and consultation. In order for comments to be taken into account at this stage, responses should be raised directly with Thames Water as the developer of the proposed project.
The IPC is able to provide advice about applying for an order granting development consent, or making a representations about a proposed application (under s.51 of the Act). Whilst we are happy to be copied in on any comments you might wish to make to the developer, we are unable at this stage to provide advice on the merits of a proposed application. This ensures the impartiality of the IPC and protects the interests of all parties involved in the application process. All advice that we give is recorded via an advice log, in line with s.51 of the Act. This log is published on our website: attachment 1.
Your local council also plays a role in the process at the pre-application stage and we would encourage you to copy to the council any comments you send to the developer about its pre-application consultation. The IPC will be seeking the relevant Council's views on the adequacy of the developers consultation at the time the application is submitted. Further information on this and how you can be involved in the developers? consultation is detailed in IPC Advice Note 8.2, which is available at: attachment 2.
Once a developer is satisfied that its pre-application consultation, publicity and other relevant duties are complete, they may submit an application to the IPC. The IPC then has 28 days in which to decide whether or not to accept the application. If accepted, the application would then proceed to the examination stage. The IPC's acceptance decision is based on whether, amongst other matters, the developer's pre-application consultation and publicity has been adequate and has complied with the consultation methodology they set out in their Statement of Community Consultation. When making a decision on whether the pre-application consultation has been adequate, the IPC will have regard to:
- Thames Water's Consultation Report;
- Any comments on the adequacy of Thames Water's consultation submitted by relevant local authorities; and
- The extent to which Thames Water have had regard to the guidance about making an application published by the IPC and the Secretary of State under s.50 of the PA2008.
If an application is accepted for examination by the IPC, you are able to become involved in the examination of an application. A suite of advice notes has been published by the IPC providing information on how and when members of the public can become involved in the infrastructure planning process and have their say. In particular, advice note 8.3 provides information on, amongst other matters, how to register as an 'interested party' and make relevant and written representations. This can be found at: attachment 3.