North Wales Connection
In the attached press article, National Grid say they have shared 40,000 pages of technical information about the North Wales Connection. I have always meant to estimate how much stuff they have produced but never had the time. However I am sure they are correct. How is the general public supposed to find the time, or technical expertise, to meaningfully engage with such a quantity of information? My understanding of the Planning Act 2008 is that the consultation that is required under the Act is supposed to allow for such engagement. In your advice note nine you state:
"Clearly for consultation to be effective there will need to be a genuine possibility to influence the proposal and therefore a project should not be so fixed as to be unable to respond to comments from consultees"
In none of the consultations (2012, 2015 & 2016) has there ever been a "genuine possibility to influence the proposal" in a macro sense, only minor detail, and so it is reasonable to conclude that the consultation has not been "effective"
Paragraph 81 of the DCLG guidance on pre application consultation states:
"81. It is good practice that those who have contributed to the consultation are informed of the results of the consultation exercise; how the information received by applicants has been used to shape and influence the project"
So far, all we have seen is yet another glossy "sales" leaflet, not what I would consider results. How can a developer such as National Grid be allowed to so openly flout such good practice guidance? I accept it is only guidance, not mandatory, but to my mind this clearly demonstrates a breakdown in the relationship between NGET and the Anglesey public
The volume of consultation material for each application will vary depending on the scale of the scheme. The DCLG Guidance on the pre-application process suggests that consultation should be ‘engaging and accessible in style, encouraging consultees to react and offer their views’. Once the application has been formally submitted, compliance with the guidance will be an important consideration when deciding whether the application is of a satisfactory standard to proceed to examination.
The Applicant is required to submit a consultation report with their application and in this they should evidence how feedback from the consultation has influenced the proposals.