The Planning Officers Society has raised a number of concerns in relation to the nuclear build arrangements, which is attached as an appendix to the Government’s recent Energy Review.
The Society is particularly concerned about the consultation arrangements on the policy framework and role of planning inquiries in new nuclear build. It is recognised that there has to be a more streamlined form of inquiry than that which took place for previous nuclear projects. However, the proposals in the consultation indicate that the need for new build and the strategic siting of new build would not be matters for public inquiries.
John Pitchford, speaking on behalf of the POS, said “Given the evidence of the rather superficial justification of need that emerges from the Energy Review, one would not have confidence that the proposed separate strategic siting assessment would consider in detail the local issues that may make a location suitable or unsuitable for such a proposal.”
The consultation document indicates that an inspector would still be able to explore issues covered by the strategic site assessment if they felt that issues had not been covered, but there should not be detailed oral evidence presented at the inquiry. POS is of the view that, in this context, it will be nigh on impossible to properly explore strategic site issues.
The consultation document also states that the inquiry should focus on the local benefits of the development and how specific local impacts of the construction and operation of the plant can be minimised. POS is concerned that as a result the planning process will be relegated to looking purely at the cosmetic elements of these significant developments, and not at any wider issues of location.