I would like to know whether the decision to go ahead with a Development Consent Order is based on what is theoretically possible or what is actually being proposed. I am asking this question because one prominent campaigner in favour of the airport, XXX, is claiming that she attended a meeting organised by RSP to keep their faithful supporters updated. At this meeting, XXX says that they drew a distinction between the plans which had been presented to the Planning Inspectorate and what they were actually intending to do. The essence of the comments is that RSP are only putting forward plans for a very large cargo hub to justify the DCO. They don't actually intend to deliver anything of that scale.
I don't know what was said at this meeting. I wasn't there because I'm not one of RSP's faithful supporters. However, in light of XXX's comments, I have serious concerns that the Planning Inspectorate may be being misled. I don't know whether this would be a criminal offence, but I am concerned that the DCO process should only be used where and when it is needed. It should not be used as a technique for one developer to wrest control of a plot of land from another developer.
I have pasted a screenshot of XXX's comments below. There are others I could supply but please can you explain whether the application for a DCO has to specify what will be done, rather than portraying a hypothetical scenario which the company involved has not intention of delivering?
Development consent can be granted where the project is for the alteration of an airport where the alteration is expected to have the effect of increasing the number of cargo aircraft movements by at least 10,000 per year (s23(4) and (5) of the Planning Act 2008 (PA2008)). The Applicant should be able to demonstrate in its application that the alteration it is proposing would be expected to increase the number of aircraft movements by the legislated amount. The extent of the alterations which will lead to the increase should be clear from the description of the works in the draft Development Consent Order (dDCO) and the accompanying plans.
If there is doubt as to whether an Applicant will build out a full Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project under s23(4) and (5) of the PA2008 and if the application is accepted the appointed Examining Authority, if it considered it necessary or appropriate, would be able to explore with/ suggest to the Applicant the possibility of including wording in the dDCO to specify a minimum number of works that when provided could have the effect of increasing aircraft movements. Alternatively, it would be possible for the Examining Authority to ask the Applicant to include a Requirement in the dDCO to specify that particular parts of the development must not be commenced until other enabling infrastructure is provided (eg a sufficient number of aircraft stands must be provided which would be expected to have the effect of increasing the number of aircraft movements to at least 10,000).
Both of these approaches may enable enforcement action to be taken against the Undertaker if there were to be a breach of the terms of the made DCO or a failure to comply with the terms of the DCO (offences under s161 of the PA2008).