Hinkley Point C New Nuclear Power Station
I?m still rather mystified as to how the Commissioners actually reached the conclusion that Combwich should be treated as a Principle issue. As the district councils have not yet submitted their Local Impact Reports it does seem rather odd that Combwich should have been singled out for this rather exceptional treatment at such an early stage in the process.
I would be very grateful if you could offer an explanation.
The Panel have read the application documents and the relevant representations in setting out their initial assessment of principal issues. The process set down in the Planning Act 2008 and secondary legislation requires the Examining Authority to undertake this assessment. The point of this is to flush out the type of views and opinions that you and others are making right now, so they can be put to the Commissioners at the Preliminary Meeting in an open and transparent way.
This is not an unusual process in the context of a large planning inquiry or examination where a draft timetable, setting out the proposed topic areas / issues is always presented to participants for them to comment on, ahead of the start of the examination or inquiry. Clearly, not all of the evidence has been presented at that stage.
Nothing is set in stone once the principal issues have been finalised after the Preliminary Meeting. The Examining Authority have the power to add specific issue hearings and to pose questions in writing about matters which they need further information or clarification about during the course of the examination, in response to the representations being put to them in writing or at oral hearings.
To reiterate, the principal issues are not necessarily the issues which will carry the most weight in decision making terms, rather they are the issues which the Panel feel they need further clarification or more information about.
I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on the inclusion of Combwich in the Panel's initial assessment of principal issues. As our letter of 10th February explains, any Interested Party is able to put their views about the draft timetable and initial assessment of principal issues to the Panel in writing by 16th March, indicating if they would like to speak at the Preliminary Meeting.