miércoles, 4 de noviembre de 2015

Project Film for Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay

Our vision is to see the UK’s abundant sustainable tidal resource help us towards greater energy security, whilst working sympathetically with the existing environment to bring a range of benefits to local communities involved. This film presents information about this vision and was prepared for statutory consultation in July/August 2013. Further development work was undertaken in response to this consultation such that the film may not accurately represent the final development consent application.

Planning process
An overview of the planning process towards development consent
Tidal lagoons are classed as ‘offshore generating stations’. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon will be an offshore generating station with more than 100MW of installed capacity and, as such, is considered a ‘nationally significant infrastructure project’ (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008.

NSIPs are planned under a different system to that managed by local authorities, being managed instead by the UK’s Planning Inspectorate. Local authorities are key consultees throughout the planning process, but the final decision to grant a ‘Development Consent Order’ (DCO) for the Project will rest with the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The Project lies in Welsh waters, meaning a marine licence (for dredging and construction) is also required under the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2009. Marine licence applications are determined by the Marine Licensing Team of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on behalf of the Welsh Government.

The Project cannot go ahead without both consents. Since 2011, TLSB has undertaken consultation with a wide range of organisations and the general public to help inform our proposals before submitting the relevant applications. A period of statutory consultation ran from 4 July to 5 August 2013, during which time we received several thousand representations. TLSB had regard to all such comments received, and conducted a further (non-statutory) consultation on points of detail in November and December 2013, before submitting applications for development consent and marine licensing on 7 February 2014. The requirements of the two applications are different, but duplicate documents were submitted wherever possible.

The marine licence application was accepted for consideration on 28 February 2014, and the development consent application was accepted for consideration on 6 March 2014. This means that both applications met the required standards and will proceed through the appropriate examination processes to determination, as described below.

Consent was granted by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when she made an Order (the Development Consent Order, DCO) authorising the development on Tuesday 9 June 2015. The Planning Inspectorate’s Recommendation, the Secretary of State’s decision letter, and the DCO as it has been made is available to view on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Environmental Impact Assessment
A fundamental requirement of both the development consent and marine licensing processes is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which must be reported in an Environmental Statement (ES) submitted with the applications. The Project’s EIA process commenced in October 2012 when TLSB submitted, and subsequently agreed, the scope of the assessment with relevant regulators. TLSB presented the emerging results of the EIA to regulators and wider stakeholders at several stages of the process, responding to comments before completing the assessment and finalising the ES. More information on the Project’s EIA is provided here, or you can view the full ES here and on the Inspectorate’s website here. It is important to note that TLSB submitted the same ES for both the development consent and marine licence applications.

The six-stage DCO planning process
The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new planning process aimed at streamlining decision-making for NSIPs, making it fairer and faster for communities and developers alike, and securing the delivery of vital national infrastructure including roads, rail and energy generation for example. The Planning Inspectorate provides an excellent summary of the process, including a 6-minute film, here. The information below shows the progress of TLSB through that process, with additional information provided for the marine license process which runs broadly in parallel.

1. Pre-application – COMPLETE
The process begins when the Planning Inspectorate is informed by a developer that they intend to submit an application. Before submitting the application, the developer is required to carry out extensive consultation on the development proposals. TLSB consulted on the Project for nearly three years before submission, with all comments being reviewed and subsequently reported in a Consultation Report submitted with the application documents. As noted above, all DCO and marine license application documents were submitted on 7 February 2014.
2. Acceptance – COMPLETE
This stage begins when a developer submits a formal application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate, as TLSB did on 7 February 2014. The Planning Inspectorate had 28 days to consider whether or not the application meets the required standards. TLSB’s application for development consent met the standards and was accepted for consideration on 6 March 2014. As noted above, the application for a marine license was also accepted for consideration by NRW on 28 February 2014.
3. Pre-examination – COMPLETE
Following acceptance, TLSB was required to publicise the acceptance and give the public at least 28 days to register with the Planning Inspectorate and provide a summary of their views of the application in writing (known as “relevant representations”). TLSB placed notices in local and national press in accordance with regulations, and the “relevant representations period” ran from Friday 14 March to Friday 11 April 2014.
Everyone who registered with the Inspectorate by making a relevant representation was invited to attend a ‘preliminary meeting’ on 10 June 2014. The meeting was designed not to address the merits of the proposal, only how it will be examined. It was chaired by the Examining Authority, who are the Inspector/s appointed to consider the application throughout the process.
The marine license application also had a period of public consultation, also requiring publicity in local and national press. TLSB placed notices in accordance with regulations, and the consultation period ran from Friday 14 March to Friday 25 April 2014.
4. Examination - COMPLETE
After the preliminary meeting, the Planning Inspectorate had six months to carry out the examination of the application. During this stage, those people who had registered were invited to provide more details of their views in writing, and public hearings were held (in the Swansea Bay area from 10 June to 10 December 2014). The local authorities (City & County of Swansea and Neath Port Talbot County Borough) were invited to submit ‘Local Impact Reports’ (LIR) setting out their views on the Project. Careful consideration was given by the Examining Authority to all important and relevant matters including representations, LIRs and evidence submitted.
5. Recommendation and decision - COMPLETE
Upon completion of the examination, the Planning Inspectorate had three months to prepare a report on the application to the Secretary of State, including a recommendation for consent or refusal. The Secretary of State then had a further three months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent. Development consent was granted by the making of the Order by the Secretary of State on 9 July 2015
The decision on TLSB’s application to NRW for a marine licence will follow a similar timeframe with the Inspectorate and NRW working closely together.
6. Post decision - COMPLETE
Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

Other requirements
In addition to the above, TLSB is seeking Environmental Permits (where applicable) and leases from site land owners. In the case of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, this includes for example the Crown Estate (owner of the offshore seabed), Associated British Ports (owner of Swansea Docks and its foreshore), plus St Modwen Properties plc and Swansea University (owners of the remaining foreshore).

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