Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd’s proposed massive solar
park power station is so big that it is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). As the developer explains on their site:
NSIP projects comes under the Planning Act 2008 and the application process is known as the Development Consent Order or ‘DCO’. DCO applications must be made to the Planning Inspectorate who in the case of energy related development acts on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Any final consent award is granted by the Secretary of State for BEIS, which is currently Greg Clark.
Here’s the actual timeline as we currently understand it. We’ve used the Planning Inspectorate’s 6 key stages and mapped the developers information to this.
The developers’s website has some very basic consultation information and a timeline:
Note that this timeline is expected to conclude with the application in “Q3 2018” i.e. sometime between 1 July 2018 and 30 September 2018. It is up to the developer when they make the application, but everything after that follows the ‘NSIP’ timeline.
(The rest of this timeline will be dependent on the exact date of application.)
1. Pre-application ← CURRENT STAGE
“Look out for information in local media and in public places near the location of the proposed project, such as your library. The developer will be developing their proposals and will consult widely”
The developer should be consulting widely at the moment. A certain amount of activity is underway, although we have concerns about the quality and accuracy of much of what is happening.
Phase one of consultation – COMPLETE
- The first phase of consultation happened in December. The developer showed their initial plans and collected feedback via public and private meetings. We’ve previously highlighted how biased their feedback process is.
- This first phase culminated at the same time as the developers’ Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 11 December (available online).
- This report, along with the feedback from the statutory consultees such as local councils, utilities, charities, societies, boards, trusts, has been reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate who have subsequently produced a Scoping Opinion (also available online). This presents the Planning Inspectorate’s opinion “as to the scope, and level of detail, of the information to be provided in the environmental statement”.
Phase two of consultation – COMPLETE
The developers have completed the second round of consultation. On Thursday 22nd February they gave a presentation to elected officials in Graveney Village Hall which we also attended and have commented on in the post entitled with the developer’s own phrase – “it’s a wonderful place to walk“.
They have been meeting individually with some ‘near neighbours’ (our own meeting with them was in March).
The public meetings were supposed to happen in April but this slipped into June. These were eventually announced on their website:
- Wednesday 13 June from 4.30pm to 7.30pm, at Ferry House Inn, Harty Ferry Road, Harty, ME12 4BQ
- Thursday 14 June from 1.30pm to 8pm, at Graveney Village Hall, Graveney, Faversham, ME13 9DN
- Friday 15 June from 11am to 4pm, at Seasalter Christian Centre, Seasalter, Faversham Road, Whitstable, CT5 4AX
- Saturday 16 June from 11am to 5.30pm, at Faversham Guildhall, 8 Market Place, Faversham, ME13 7AG
The Phase Two Consultation lasted until Friday 13 July 2018 – even if you missed the public meetings you were still able to provide feedback up until the deadline.
The Planning Inspectorate say: “Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it or believe it could be improved.”
We oppose this proposal and encourage all who feel the same way to engage fully with the consultation. You can phone, email, or post a letter – please find out how on the developer’s website.
Application – possibly end of August 2018
Eventually the developers will probably submit their application. At the moment they think it will be at the end of August. Quite how they will take onboard all of the consultation feedback by then is confusing to us!
2. Acceptance (…or not!?)
“The Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, has 28 days to decide whether the application meets the required standards to proceed to examination including whether the developer’s consultation has been adequate.”
Depending on DCO submission date, this could be by the end of September 2018
“You can now register as an interested party; you will be kept informed of progress and opportunities to put your case. Inspectors will hold a Preliminary Meeting and set the timetable for examination.”
The Inspectors need approximately 3 months to set things up. Therefore this should be complete by about Christmas 2018
“You can send your comments in writing. You can request to speak at a public hearing. The Inspectorate has 6 months to carry out the examination.”
This will probably take place from January 2019 – June 2019
“A recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State will be issued by the Inspectorate within 3 months. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to issue a decision on the proposal.”
Recommendation by: July 2019 – September 2019
Decision by: December 2019
“There is the opportunity for legal challenge”