Portishead Branch Line – MetroWest Phase 1

The list below includes a record of advice we have provided for this project. For a list of all advice issued by the Planning Inspectorate, including non-project related advice, please go to the Register of advice page.

There is a statutory duty, under section 51 of the Planning Act 2008, to record the advice that is given in relation to an application or a potential application, including the name of the person who requested the advice, and to make this publicly available.

Preview
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
At the MetroWest Phase 1 meeting with you on 25th June we asked whether PINS required notification under Regulation 8 of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 of the Applicant's intention that the project be progressed as EIA development under the EIA Regulations 2017 rather than under the EIA Regulations 2009 by relying on the transitional arrangements. You took the question away from the meeting. Have you had a chance to consider this?
Thank you for your inquiry. The Inspectorate cannot provide legal advice, the advice contained in this email is intended to support with the preparation of the application and is regarded as being advice provided in accordance with s51 of the Planning Act 2008. The Applicant notified the Secretary of State in writing on 23 June 2016 that it proposed to provide an environmental statement in respect of the Proposed Development in accordance with Regulation 6(1)(b) of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2009 and provided the information required under Regulation 6(3) as part of its request for a Scoping Opinion under Regulation 8(1) of the same regulations. The Inspectorate understands that the Applicant now intends to submit an environmental statement (ES) that is compliant with the requirements of the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (the 2017 EIA Regulations) and has asked whether PINS require notification under Regulation 8 of the 2017 EIA Regulations in order for them to do so. In short the Inspectorate is aware that notification in accordance with Regulation 8 of the 2017 EIA Regulations is a necessary requirement when maintaining compliance with those Regulations and is also linked to compliance with s42 of the Planning Act 2008. However, the Applicant should be aware that the Inspectorate has previously received applications under the transitional provisions that have included a 2017 EIA Regulations compliant ES in absence of a notification made under Regulation 8 of the 2017 EIA Regulations. A typical approach in this regard is set out in the Thanet Extension Offshore Windfarm ES chapter 2 section 2.4 [attachment 1] On a precautionary basis we would advise all Applicants to adopt the publicity requirements of the 2017 EIA Regulations which impose a 30 day rather 28 day duration for publicity.

02 September 2019
Womble Bond Dickison LLP (WBD) - anon.
Enquiry received via email
The applicant raised the following enquiries pertaining to their proposed DCO application expected for submission in September 2019: a. Could you please confirm you would like to see a revised version of the HRA and Avon Gorge Vegetation Management Plan? b. Are you happy with our proposal that we submit a Statement of Common Ground signed by both ourselves and Natural England in October/November 2019 given that we would hope by then to be just post-acceptance? c. Do you have any thoughts on our adaptive approach at this point? d. Given that the scheme is required to go into largely untested territory of IROPI and given some of the complexities of the context we have sought advice from Stephen Tromans QC on our approach to the HRA and the adaptive approach. We think it would be beneficial for all parties for us to include his advice in our application
a. The Inspectorate would be happy to review a revised draft of the HRA and Avon Gorge Vegetation Management Plan documents if the Applicant wishes to submit copies. We note previous discussions about summer leave and that our normal review timescales are up to 6 weeks from the point of submission but will endeavour to respond within your indicated timescales. b. The timescale for submission of the Statement of Common Ground is a matter for the Applicant and the relevant statutory consultee to agree, however the Inspectorate encourages early submission of Statement’s of Common Ground, where possible, to enable Interested Parties and the Examining Authority to take account of this information in their formulation of representations and examination questions. c. In the absence of the detailed approach and methodology in relation to the adaptive approach and without sight of Natural England’s comments in respect of the approach, the Inspectorate is unable to make any comment at this time. Any comments made would necessarily be without prejudice to the Examining Authority’s views during examination. d. The Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009 require submission of sufficient information that will enable the Examining Authority to make an appropriate assessment of the implications for a European Designated site. It is for the Applicant to determine whether the legal opinion comprises part of the ‘sufficient information’.

08 August 2019
Womble Bond Dickison LLP (WBD) - anon.
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see attached

25 June 2019
North Somerset Council - anon.
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project update meeting
Please see attached

27 November 2018
Womble Bond Dickinson LLP (WBD) - anon.
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project update meeting 23 February 2018
See attached meeting note and annex A

23 February 2018
Portishead Branch Line – MetroWest Phase 1 - anon.
Enquiry received via email
In the MetroWest Scoping Opinion (August 2015), PINS identified LNG at Appendix 1 as a "relevant statutory undertaker" for EIA consultation purposes.

In March 2017, LNG was dissolved and struck off the Companies House register. The relevant strike-off notice published by Companies House (dated 27 December 2016) stated that "Upon dissolution all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacantia, and accordingly will belong to the crown."

As we finalise our list of MetroWest S42 consultees, could you confirm please if MetroWest should remove any successor to LNG from the list of consultees? We are not aware of any successor company, and do not know if LNG's property and rights now belong to Crown. We could send a consultation letter to the Treasury Solicitor as the relevant Crown representative in case LNG's property and rights are bona vacantia, but we would welcome PINS' view before doing so.
If there is a possibility that the property and rights of LNG Portable Pipeline Services Limited are bona vacantia then our advice would be for you to consult the relevant part of the Government Legal Department in respect of this matter.

17 October 2017
Bond Dickinson LLP - George Morton Jack
Enquiry received via email
My query relates to Regulation 11(c)(ii) of the Infrastructure Planning (EIA) Regulations 2017.

Regulation 11(c)(ii) requires the Secretary of State or relevant authority to notify the applicant in writing of any particular person it considers likely to be affected by the proposed development, but unlikely to become aware of the development by means of the measures taken in compliance with Part 5 (applications for orders granting development consent) of the Planning Act 2008.

Our understanding is that for MetroWest, there has been no Regulation 11(c)(ii) notification in writing from PINS to North Somerset District Council as the promoter. Please can you confirm?
Regulation 11(c)(ii) is part of the Infrastructure Planning (EIA) Regulations 2017. As far as we are aware, the Applicant is relying on the transitional provisions in the new Regulations and therefore would be subject to the Infrastructure Planning (EIA) Regulations 2009. This means that there is no requirement for a Regulation 11(c)ii notification. However, as part of the scoping process, we considered whether there were any Regulation 9(1)c persons when preparing the Regulation 9 list that was issued to the Applicant. We did not identify any 9(1)c persons for the MetroWest project.

17 October 2017
Bond Dickinson LLP - George Morton Jack
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see attached meeting note

19 May 2017
Bond Dickinson LLP - Richard Guyatt
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Portishead Branch Line Site Visit
Please see attached note of the Site Visit.

15 December 2016
North Somerset District Council
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Portishead Branch Line Project Update Meeting Note
Please see attached meeting note.

11 October 2016
North Somerset District Council
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project Update Meeting
Please see attached meeting note

20 September 2016
North Somerset District Council
Enquiry received via email
response has attachments
In your correspondence you pose a series of questions in respect of the proposals to reopen the railway line between Bristol and Portishead. More specifically you ask why a Development Consent Order (DCO) is required to reopen the railway line, why the reopening of a suburban line in the Bristol area is deemed to be "Nationally Significant" and why the proposals are not simply a matter for the local authority/ies.
You also ask how the specific requirements of the Planning Act 2008 apply to the specifics of this scheme and refer to the consistency in approach to this scheme and other Network Rail schemes.
The Planning Act 2008 created a regime to examine and determine applications for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). Section 14 of that Act lists the types of development that may be considered to be NSIPs and the list includes the construction or alteration of a railway. Section 25 of that Act then goes on to state the specific set of criteria that define the “construction or alteration of a railway” under this Act; it includes for example reference to including a stretch of track that is a continuous length of more than 2km. Section 31 of the Planning Act states that development consent (or a DCO) is required for development that is of forms part of a NSIP. It would be a criminal offence to construct a scheme without a DCO that should be categorised as an NSIP under the Planning Act 2008.

Therefore, irrespective of landownership, funding or perceived scale or significance of a scheme, if a proposal satisfies the provisions of the Act and in particular s25, then it is an NSIP and therefore requires a DCO. The local authorities have informed us that they believe the proposal contains elements that are defined under the Planning Act and therefore the proposals would need to be determined under this regime.

There is information about the Planning Act process on our website. As a process it does cover a number of different types of development including airport-related development, energy generating infrastructure and railways. To that extent it could be considered a “one-size-fits-all” process. However, there is flexibility in the system particularly in respect of the Pre-Application stage; the MetroWest Portishead proposals are currently in the Pre-Application stage.

You raise questions about the appropriateness of the consenting regime i.e. the need for development consent to be granted through the Planning Act 2008 (PA2008) process. It is for developers to demonstrate to the Planning Inspectorate why any proposed development constitutes a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP), and to which development within the categories in ss14-30 of the PA2008 a scheme relates.

Until such time as an application is formally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, a decision cannot be made about whether a proposed scheme includes development which includes an NSIP and for which development consent is required. At this stage of the process it is not for the Planning Inspectorate to take a view which might fetter the judgement of the Secretary of State at a later stage.

In the context of your detailed analysis, I acknowledge that the above advice might be of limited use to you. However, I would stress that at this stage of the process the Planning Inspectorate only has access to information that the developer has provided to us. Our understanding and interpretation of the scheme is based therefore on the same documentation that is available to you and the view of the developer.

So to attempt to seek resolution to the queries that you pose, might I in the first instance direct you to the Applicant’s ‘Scoping Report’, available on our website here: [attachment 1]

This document at section 1.2 provides the Applicant’s interpretation of the need for development consent. In particular requisite works within the Avon Gorge Woodlands Special Area of Conservation are described at paragraph 1.2.14. Within this area Network Rail’s permitted development powers are restricted.

Beyond this advice and the information signposted within it, to seek any further clarification in respect of your query I would strongly advise you to contact the developer directly. For your convenience I include their contact details below.

Direct dial: 0117 9036868
Email: [email protected]

05 August 2016
Mr Chillistone
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Project update meeting

02 February 2016
North Somerset District Council
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Update on project progress to date
Please see attached meeting note.

01 October 2015
North Somerset Council - Colin Medus
Enquiry received via meeting
response has attachments
Note of inception meeting. See attached.

27 May 2015
North Somerset Council - James Willcock