Hornsea Offshore Wind Farm (Zone 4) - Project Two
The applicant asked for advice regarding the decision phase for Hornsea Project One, the pre-application stage for Project Two, trans-boundary consultation, Statements of Common Ground, timescale drafting and legal advice relating to their draft application documents.
Decision ? Project One
The applicant is still awaiting decision for Hornsea Project One and the Secretary of State (SoS) has until the 10 December 2014 to issue a decision. The Inspectorate informed the applicant that in Section 134 of the PA 2008 if the order granting development consent has been approved by the SoS and there are compulsory acquisition powers included in the order, it is the applicant?s duty to inform affected persons or persons with an interest in the land by serving them with a compulsory acquisition notice. The applicant must also publish a compulsory acquisition notice in one or more local newspapers circulating in the locality in which the order land is situated and make a copy of the order available at a place in the vicinity of the land and to affix a compulsory acquisition notice to a conspicuous object on or near the land.
When a decision is taken, the Inspectorate will endeavor to communicate this to the applicant and publish documents as soon as practicable to assist with the applicant complying with their duties.
Pre-Application stage - Project Two
The applicant gave an overview of the proposed Hornsea Project Two which will comprise of an offshore generating station with a potential capacity of up to 1,800 MW. Hornsea Project Two will be adjacent to Project One and will have an offshore area of approximately 462km2. The applicant is still aiming for a submission date of 20 November 2014.
The Inspectorate advised the applicant that to ensure a smooth examination should the application be accepted, it was important all member states that may be affected are encouraged to register as interested parties (IP?s) in the examination. Although trans-boundary issues are not an examination issue, it is an issue which can become significant as projects progress. If member states become IP?s, it will ensure that they are sent all procedural decisions and that they are informed about the project and allows issues to be identified and resolved at the earliest possible stage.
Statements of Common Ground
The applicant explained that they have raised the potential to progress draft Statements of Common Ground (SoCG) with key stakeholders highlighting the potential benefits; however limited progress has been made to date. The Inspectorate confirmed that they had received similar feedback from other applicants but confirmed that this was the correct approach. Early communication and negotiations facilitates fewer and more focused questions later on in the examination. There has the potential to save time and resource later in the examination.
The Inspectorate agreed to feed this back to key stakeholders and assure them that they are agreeing to a draft DCO in the SoCG and not the final version to alleviate some of the confusion and concerns expressed. The Inspectorate also advised that if key stakeholders are not happy agreeing to a SoCG at such an early stage then applicants could suggest that they submit a more detailed relevant representation to allow the Examining Authority to have as much information at the earliest possible stage allowing for a more focused examination. The Inspectorate expressed an intention to speak to stakeholders regarding this matter to facilitate greater cooperation.
Where an application involves Crown land being affected by the development and the land is ?looked after? by a third party, the Inspectorate expressed to the applicant how useful it is to state whether dialogue has taken place between the applicant and stated third party. This makes it easier for Examining Authorities to ensure that all parties are consulted and track progress through the examination as agreement is sought. The Inspectorate suggested that the Statement of Reasons was a good place to identify these agreements and reassure the Examining Authority that everyone has been consulted and that all information is presented at the earliest possible stage.
Whilst discussing the topic of documenting all correspondence, the Inspectorate also commented that when Local Authorities were consulted on the developments but did not respond, this should be kept on record as ?no comment? to evidence that they were consulted, however had no points to make on the project. This should be detailed within the consultation report to assure the acceptance Inspector that all of the correct people have been consulted.
The applicant had produced a draft timetable for the Hornsea Project Two examination should the application be accepted. The applicant suggested starting the relevant representation period in January to ensure that parties were not disadvantaged with the Christmas Period and close after the statutory 28 days, however the Inspectorate queried whether the applicant would consider starting the period earlier and giving people a longer opportunity to make a relevant representation. Allowing the relevant representation period to go on for longer gives people additional time to voice their opinions and ensures that people have sufficient amount of time to identify and clearly communicate these issues.
In line with the updated Advice note 2, to try and reduce the amount of paper used in the examination as much as possible, the Inspectorate will liaise with Inspectors to cut this down and use electronic copies where possible but at the same time the Inspectorate and the applicant understood the value of having paper copies to hand for important visual elements such as plans.
The Inspectorate upon request provided the applicant with detailed legal advice relating to their draft application documents. A note of this can be found on the National Infrastructure website following the link below: