Hinkley Point C New Nuclear Power Station
It is unfortunate that the IPC did not make it clear to parish or town councils that there was a possibility to meet with them, separate from the public meetings, in order to discuss procedural matters. As you know, the public meeting in the Victory Hall was solely to discuss registration details. Had Stogursey parish council been aware that it was also possible to discuss procedural issues at another arranged time, then doubtless it would have availed itself of such a valuable opportunity.( As, I am sure, would other affected councils).
I trust that in future applications of this nature that this matter will be rectified for the benefit of all affected parties.
The IPC came into existence in October 2009 and EDF were already underway with their community consultation by the time we were ready to meet with participants in the process. We usually try to meet with town and parish councils early in the pre application stage to provide advice about the process. This was not possible at Hinkley.
We have tried not to distract members of the public and other organisations from engaging with EDF during the pre application stage. As such, we only invited meetings with the District and County Councils and the Environment Agency. We met with these organisations because they have specific responsibilities to prepare Local Impact Reports and because of their involvement in the EIA and transport assessment process. We have always thought it was vital that the public and others engage fully with the developer at the pre application stage to ensure they can influence the preparation of the application, rather than meet with us. Of course where we got specific requests for meetings, such as from Otterhampton PC, we tried to accommodate them.
Naturally, people always want to discuss the merits of the application which is something we cannot do and so I think to have held outreach events or to have issued a more general invitation for meetings with the IPC during EDF's pre application consultation would have created more heat than light. We discussed the timing of the outreach events with the District Councils at our regular catch-up meetings and they supported our intention to hold them after the submission of the application because it was thought that to have done so in advance of this would have confused the public and others, especially given the volume of consultation that was ongoing and had already taken place about the Hinkley project by the applicant and other agencies.
I'll raise your concerns about the perceived inequity you clearly feel about this with our Head of Casework, to see if we can learn form this in our approach to meetings with individuals and organisations at the pre application stage on other projects. I reiterate that I do not believe you are in any way disadvantaged by not having met with the casework team at the pre application stage. I also reiterate that the Panel of Commissioners were not appointed until after the application was accepted for examination by the IPC and so any pre application meetings of the type you have referred to have had no bearing on the initial assessment of principal issues or the draft examination timetable.