Welcome to the NIPA newsletter Autumn 2021, which endeavours to cover all relevant developments up until the start of November. You can find the newsletter below.
We hope this finds all members, their colleagues and families safe. Thankfully we seem to be slowly emerging from the pandemic with daily lives beginning to approach something that looks a bit more like normality even if there is some way to go and despite the fact there may be some bumps on the way as we go through the coming winter months.
Having had to hold our annual conference remotely in July we were delighted to be able to hold our Annual dinner again, after a missing a year in 2020, on 18 November.
A lot has happened since our last update for members and I hope you will find this newsletter insightful and entertaining. Thank you for taking the time to read what is quite a lengthy update. Before I move on I should thank colleagues at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner who have assisted with pulling the newsletter together. My thanks are due to Planning Trainees Madeleine Lofchy and Charlie Austin, Associate Director James Parker and Knowledge Development lawyer Claire Eccles. Any omissions or errors however remain my responsibility!
Project Acceleration and the National Infrastructure Planning Reform Programme that is aimed at making the NSIP regime “fairer, faster, greener” is now up and running with the Government consultation on the existing system being completed in Phase 1 of the process (and end to end operational review of the existing system) closing on 17 December. NIPA will be responding to the Consultation in detail. The review is due to be completed by Autumn 2023 but we can expect to see details of the improvements and changes to the NSIP regime that the Programme will implement in the lead up to that date.
The review of the suite of Energy NPSs has been commenced further to Project Acceleration and revised drafts were out for consultation until 29 November – further details on that are set out below. The review of the National Networks NPS is also underway further to the commitment made in the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Other NPS reviews will follow. Although not yet the Airports NPS in which respect of which the Secretary of State has determined that there has been no change in circumstances that would justify a review of the Policy Statement (at this time!). Biodiversity net gain whilst not part of Project Acceleration is another important development going forward through the Environment Act 2021 with much detail to follow in secondary legislation which will be consulted upon over the coming months.
Ironically given the objectives of Project Acceleration a feature of the NSIP 2008 regime that has continued (and some would say got worse) over the last 12 months is delayed decisions on projects in a number of sectors notably highways and off shore wind. A further cause of delay in the system is the quashing of a number of DCOs for various legal reasons. Further details of both delays in the system and successful Judicial Reviews are set out in the Newsletter. There have also been the first application for material changes to DCOs which are also now going through the system – notably Hinkley Point ‘C’ and Able Marine.
In October Jan Bessell was elected Chair of the Board of NIPA replacing Angus Walker who had been in post for 6 years or two Chairperson election cycles. Congratulations to Jan on her appointment and to Angus for his achievements in his time as Chair. Angus has done so much good work in driving NIPA forward during that time making NIPA a better, more effective and resilient organisation. NIPA owes Angus a huge debt of thanks for all he has done over his time as Chair of the Board and we look forward to his continued involvement in the future success of NIPA. He has left an impressive legacy for Jan and the Board as a whole to build on.
As I said above I hope you enjoy the newsletter. If you have ideas for how it can be improved or any suggestions for future content please let us have them. The membership of NIPA is extremely diverse and talented and a real strength of the organisation, we would love to hear your ideas which can be submitted via the following email address email@example.com.
Finally I am sure the whole of NIPA will want to pass on best wishes to Sarah Drljaca, NIPA Board member and the author of our previous newsletter (which was excellent), who went on maternity leave in mid-November.
Thanks you for reading and best wishes.