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 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