Examining the “s51 advice”

In Friday’s post I started looking into what is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. It was quite a long post and had many links and acronyms – sorry!

The world of planning is complex and process-driven, so I thought it would be useful to start looking at the detail of all this in a series of shorter, more focused posts. I’m not an expert, and this is just a part of my learning process – but I hope you’ll find it useful.

I’m starting with “s51 advice” which was touched on in the previous post. “s51 advice” is a piece of jargon that refers to how the UK government’s Planning Inspectorate starts to engage with a developer. It refers to Section 51 of the Planning Act 2008 which covers “Advice for potential applicants and others”. In this pre-application stage, the Planning Inspectorate provides advice about what should be considered for the application. At this stage it doesn’t advise on the merits of the particular application.

application-process-diagram2
This diagram from the Planning Inspectorate’s advice about the process shows ‘pre-application’ on the left.

The key document I’m looking at in this post is the s51 advice for Cleve Hill Solar which was provided by the Planning Inspectorate at a meeting in Bristol on 3 May 2017. A meeting note is published in the Planning Inspectorate’s website. The five page document makes for interesting reading – here are some quotes:

The Applicant noted that the site is predominantly comprised of agricultural land, 95% of which is Grade 3b, with a small area of Grade 2 land

In their literature Cleve Hill Solar mostly talk about “low or poor grade agricultural quality (Grade 3b)” but there’s more detail in a large online file relating to their “event materials“:

Land-use
What have we done to date?
The land is currently under arable cultivation. Land
Research Associates carried out an Agricultural Land
Classification (ALC) survey in March 2017.

What have we found?
The ALC survey found that:
• 94.2% of the total land area is Grade 3b
• 2.3% of the total land area is Grade 3a
• 0.5% of the total land area is Grade 2
• 3% of the total land area is non-agricultural land

It would be useful to see which parts of the land are graded higher than 3b.

The Applicant confirmed that the DCO will contain Compulsory Acquisition (CA) powers, but confirmed that no Crown land would be affected by the project. There might be a need for CA of land adjacent to roads outside the main site. The Applicant may look to use CA powers to “clean title” for certain parts of the site.

So some land may be subject to Compulsory Acquisition!?

Do have a look through the document and let me know if you find anything else. In addition to the above it covers:

  • Ecological surveys
  • Landscape and Visual Impact
  • Historic Landscape
  • Flood Risk
  • Traffic
  • Consents and Permits
  • Programme
  • Engagement with Local Authorities
  • AOB covers a related batter storage s51 for ‘Statera’.
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One thought on “Examining the “s51 advice”

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  1. “The Inspectorate advised the Applicant to consider the cumulative visual effects resulting from the project and any temporary or seasonal structures in the vicinity (such as polytunnels) in its assessment. The potential impact on views from tall buildings (such as church towers) was also noted. The Applicant advised that many of the properties close to the site do not face towards the proposed application site. ”

    Not sure I agree with that last sentence…

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