NuGens Moorside Project in West Cumbria
With regard to the issue of the timing of the Moorside and NWCC applications, I do wonder if both applications are submitted at the same time, whether there would be the possibility that Step 2 of the Aarhus Convention’s model on public participation in decision making may not be adequately met. This states:
“Reasonable time frames means allowing sufficient time for informing the public and for the public to prepare and participate effectively in the decision making” (see page 20 of this document attachment 1 )
If the public and organisations such as ourselves are unable to participate effectively because of overlapping of written submission deadlines and hearing preparations for the two applications, then this would give rise to concerns that the consultation process was unfair because of time pressure and resource capacity. Preparation and involvement in one NSIP is a complex and time consuming process. Involvement in two at the same time, which are intimately linked to each other will be almost impossible for members of the public and small organisations such as ourselves who do not have the benefit of funding for resources via Planning Performance Agreements that the LPAs and statutory agencies have.
In regard to whether there would be any breach of the Convention, I believe this would ultimately be a matter for the Aarhus Convention committee, therefore I would not be able to provide any comment on this.
We have previously asked the developers to consider the potential resource implications of submitting their proposals at a similar time, and I would advise you to raise your concerns directly with NuGen and National Grid.
The Planning Inspectorate must comply with the statutory deadlines in the Planning Act 2008 when accepting and examining an application, however when setting the timetable we will do our best to avoid overlap/clashes of dates where possible. The pre-application consultation stage is a fundamental part of the overall process and we would encourage Friends of the Lake District to engage fully in this process by commenting on the proposals prior to submission, we are aware that NuGen is currently undertaking its statutory consultation now, ahead of the National Grid statutory pre-application consultation phase.
If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.