North West Coast Connections Project – N Grid

Enquiry received via email

North West Coast Connections Project - N Grid

20 December 2016
Lucy Gilbert

Enquiry

Re National Grid North West coast connections proposals
I have great concern about the way in which these consultations have been structured. A major private company wishes to put a major infrastructure in place. They hold ‘consultations in areas that might be affected’ but do not publicise and inform the rest of the country? Why not? The Lake District is one of the most popular places in the country so it means millions of our own population visit it, these people would surely want to know if one of their favourite places to visit in the UK is to be decimated in this way? Surely it would be good practice to be required to share this information with the country- it is infrastructure of importance after all.
The consultation period was delayed twice in 2016. Yet no such extension period pro rata has been given to those who are being consulted. This means the overall time for responses to be in has been considerably shortened. The last consultation was around 8th December 2016 in Millom, so this community has less than 1 month to read and digest all the technical detail in all the vast number of documents. Is there any community or company that could do that so quickly?
At the initial consultation we had 3 options available. When the offshore connection was overwhelmingly chosen, this option was removed by saying it was not feasible!! How are private large companies like NG able to justify their behaviour in this way, within the ‘consultation’ exercise itself?
The response document is many pages long and highly complex with absurd questions such as Q6 appearing to act in a scare mongering way about the amount of money being spent, with no context of costs for each phase including the power station itself.NG also says anyone can respond but they make no effort to inform all those who visit or all those who might be interested in such developments. Children can respond but where is the child friendly document for all those future adults who will have to live with this decision?
Most importantly, the company NG is allowed to collect, monitor and grade the responses that they receive without scrutiny from the public who have responded. How is this democratic? No one in these communities trusts NG with their objections or their views (their overwhelming desire for offshore connections when first asked for their views were ignored despite this being one of the options available for the initial consultation) so why in this case of a national infrastructure development do we not have an INDEPENDENT company collecting, collating and reviewing the responses and at the same time being open to scrutiny re NG proposals. This is absolutely intolerable- it is equivalent to the Conservative or Labour party having the role of running the election.

Advice given

Thank you for your email of 17 December regarding the pre application consultation undertaken by National Grid for the North West Coast Connections project.
We are responsible for administering the development consent process and for providing advice to members of the public and others about the process. If and when the application is submitted to us, we will formally request the views of the relevant local authorities about whether or not NG complied with the commitments they set out in their Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC). The SoCC is a document in which NG were required to explain the way in which they intended to consult the local communities affected by the proposals, including the duration of the consultation, the types of activities that were intended to take place and the geographical coverage of the consultation activity. NG were required to consult the relevant local authorities about their consultation methodology before implementing it. As such, if you have strong views about the way in which local communities have been consulted on this project we would advise you to forward these to your local authority who may use them to inform their representation to us about the adequacy of NG’s pre application consultation, at the time the application is submitted.
If and when an application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by NG we will check all the documents and plans to make sure they are of an acceptable standard and are capable of being formally examined. One of the documents we will check is the Consultation Report which should describe the consultation NG did before they submitted their application and to report on how they had regard to the views put to them by consultees. In checking the veracity of the Consultation Report, the Planning Inspectorate can ask NG to provide some or all of the responses provided to them by consultees. We can use these to check that the identification of issues in the Report is an accurate reflection of the views provided to them.
At the pre application stage, NG is required to publicise their proposals in local and national newspapers under s48 of the Planning Act 2008. The responses to this publicity also need to be included in the Consultation Report.
If you would like more information about the development consent process we have produced useful videos and written material on our website here:
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