We spoke on the telephone this morning about the statutory consultation on Highways England’s scoping report on the A303 Stonehenge scheme. You advised me that only statutory consultees could be asked to comment on the report.
I am wondering if you are able to tell me, please, whether the National Trust is being consulted on the report and, if so, on what basis? I’d also be grateful if you should tell me whether all land owners whose land would be affected by the scheme are being consulted on the scoping report.
The applicant has requested a Scoping Opinion under Regulation 10 of The Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (the EIA Regulations). They have also formally notified the Secretary of State under Regulation 8(1)(b) of the same regulations that they are proposing to provide an Environmental Statement in respect of the development. The Planning Inspectorate administers the processes relating to requests for scoping opinions on behalf of the Secretary of State.
Under Regulation 10 of the EIA Regulations, the Planning Inspectorate (on behalf of the Secretary of State) must not adopt a scoping opinion until they have consulted the “consultation bodies”, which are defined as:
(a) a body prescribed under section 42(1)(a)(c) (duty to consult) and listed in column 1 of the table set out in Schedule 1 to the Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009 where the circumstances set out in column 2 of that table are satisfied in respect of that body;
(b) each authority that is within section 43(e) (local authorities for purposes of section 42(1)(b)); and
(c) if the land to which the application, or proposed application, relates or any part of that land is in Greater London, the Greater London Authority;
The relevant pieces of legislation referred to here can be found on our website: attachment 1
As discussed on the phone yesterday the “consultation bodies” includes local planning authorities, parish councils, statutory advisory bodies (such as Historic England, Natural England and the Environment Agency) and others. Further details on the process of defining the consultation bodies can be found in the Planning Inspectorate’s Advice note three: EIA consultation and notification.
By way of a response to your query, the National Trust and land owners whose land would be affected by the scheme do not fall within the definition of “consultation bodies” for the purposes of the EIA Regulations. However, there are other statutory pre-application consultation duties which the applicant must undertake in accordance with section 42 (Duty to consult) and section 47 (Duty to consult local community) of the Planning Act 2008 (as amended). There is further information on this process in the Planning Inspectorate’s Advice note eight series. I understand from Highways England’s own A303 Stonehenge project page that the statutory consultation process is planned to take place in “early 2018” and this is also referred to at section 4.4 of their Scoping Report which I understand you have already seen.