THE PLANNING INSPECTORATE (PINS) PLANNING PROCESS
The roles and responsibilities of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) were passed to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) on 1 April 2012.
Because it is over 50MW, the Alexandra Dock Biomass Power Station is considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) that requires development consent under the Planning Act 2008.
The planning application will be submitted to PINS, which is the examining authority which will determine the application after consultation with statutory and non-statutory consultees, including the Local Planning Authority and the community.
Sefton Council is, therefore, an important stakeholder and RES will be consulting with them throughout the process. RES will also be carrying out comprehensive consultation with the local community and we are keen to hear people's views.
- Following announcement of the project, technical and
environmental studies begin, along with early discussions with the
community and other stakeholders.
- A scoping report is produced and submitted to the Planning
Inspectorate as well as to the Local Planning Authority (LPA)
to determine which issues need to be addressed during the
Environmental Impact Assessment. A Statement of Community
Consultation (SOCC) is also be submitted and published locally;
this sets out how the developer will consult with the local
community and on what issues.
- A detailed Environmental Impact Assessment of the potential
impacts and benefits of the power station is then carried out,
along with other technical and engineering studies. The design is
also refined in response to comments received during the
consultation process. The LPA will also prepare its own Local
- Once all project details are finalised and consultations
complete, the developer submits a planning application to
the Planning Inspectorate along with the Environmental
Statement and Consultation Report.
- Once the application is accepted by the Planning Inspectorate,
a period of consultation follows during which the application is
publicised and responses are sent direct to PINS.
- PINS examines the application and a decision whether to grant consent is made. The examination and decision period can take up to 1 year and 6 weeks.
National renewable energy policy:
The decision whether to grant planning consent or not will be made in the context of national policy on renewable energy, as set out in the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Renewable Energy. Currently in draft form, it states that 'Electricity generation from renewable sources of energy is an important element in the Government's transition to a low-carbon economy. There are ambitious renewable energy targets in place and a significant increase in generation from large-scale renewable energy infrastructure is necessary.'
While government policy is supportive of renewable energy and biomass power generation is a recognised form of renewable energy, the Planning Inspectorate also has to have regard to any local impact report submitted by the LPA, any relevant matters prescribed in regulations and any other matters which PINS thinks are both important and relevant to the decision. It will consider whether the benefits of the project outweigh any local adverse impacts. The LPA (Sefton Council) will also have regard to national policy as set out in the NPS in drawing up its local impact report.