Nationally significant infrastructure projects
Nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) are large projects such as power stations, pylon lines, railways, large wind farms, reservoirs, harbours, airports and sewerage treatment plants.
Applications for Development Consent Orders are submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. They are decided by the Secretary of State. The council is a consultee to this process.
Each application is reviewed primarily against National Policy Statements covering matters such as energy, transport, water and waste, although local policy can also be relevant. We have policy in place in both our adopted Core Strategy and Policies Sites and Places Plan.
Before submitting an application for consent, developers must show they have consulted with the right people and organisations and that their views have been considered. Both the council and local communities are consulted.
Active projects in South Gloucestershire
There are two nationally significant infrastructure projects active in South Gloucestershire:
- Oldbury proposed new nuclear power station
- Hinkley Point C connection project
We are also consulted on projects in adjacent local authority areas.
Oldbury proposed new nuclear power station
A large site next to the existing power station at Oldbury is nominated by Government as being potentially suitable for a new nuclear power station for delivery by 2025. However, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is developing a new national policy statement for nuclear power stations above 1GW that would be deliverable by 2035. It is understood that Oldbury is likely to be rolled forward onto that new list.
Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd own two sites proposed for new nuclear power stations: Wylfa Newydd, which is their lead site on the Isle of Anglesey, and the site at Oldbury. These would each generate a minimum of 2,700MW of low carbon electricity. Horizon is owned by Hitachi.
Horizon already has approval for their reactors to be used in the UK. The latest information on their proposed new power station at Wylfa Newydd is available on the Horizon Nuclear Power’s website and the Planning Inspectorate website.
In early 2019 Horizon announced a suspension of work on both of their sites, due to a lack of agreement with Government on the financial and commercial arrangements. Their future implementation program is currently uncertain. Horizon have however committed however to being a good neighbour and responsible land owner, and to maintaining contact with local communities and the council. Further information is available on Horizon Nuclear Power’s website and in their latest newsletter.
South Gloucestershire Council’s response to consultations on matters related to the nomination of a site at Oldbury for a nuclear new build power station are as follows:
- 15 March 2018 – response to Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) consultation on siting criteria and process for new national policy statement
- 24 January 2011 response to Department for Energy and Climate Change (ECC) consultation on revised draft national policy statements for energy infrastructure
- 24 January 2011 response to revised draft national policy statements on energy infrastructure
The council is a member of the Local Government Association Special Interest Group, for local authorities that are proposed to host new nuclear power stations (New Nuclear Local Authorities Group or NNLAG). This group enables the sharing of knowledge, experience and best practice and provides a mechanism for making representations to Government on the development of such projects. In January 2020, NNLAG published an independent study by Oxford Brookes University on the impacts of the early stages of construction of the Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station. This study is intended to help local government and other stakeholders to work with developers, to plan and implement such projects so that opportunities and benefits are maximised and negative impacts are minimised.
Hinkley Point C connection project
The Hinkley C connection Project will provide a new high voltage grid connection to the proposed new build nuclear power station at Hinkley in Somerset. Although the majority of works are in other local authority areas, this scheme includes a relatively short stretch of new pylon line running through the Enterprise Area at Severnside in South Gloucestershire, before linking to the existing Seabank Power station.
Our role during the planning stages was as a consultee on the project. Working with other affected councils and the National Grid throughout the pre-application and examination stages of the project, we sought to ensure that impacts of the project on our communities, businesses and environment and the wider Severnside Enterprise Area are minimised.
Our current role is in discharging requirements that are relevant to South Gloucestershire and attached to the Development Consent Order. Discharge of Requirement applications made by the National Grid to South Gloucestershire Council, and both the applications and decisions on these are available by searching Public Access, our planning applications website.
Working arrangements for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
At the start of any pre-application involvement with the project promoter, we promote the use of Planning Performance Agreements (PPA) to ensure we have the necessary resource in place to service these large and complex projects.
The PPA sets out working arrangements and ensures an efficient project managed approach to the work. It also ensures that the project promoter provides resource to cover additional work that we may need to do in assessing and advising on matters such as planning, design, impact assessment and mitigation.
The signing of a PPA does not bind us to any future decisions or recommendations. The documents include specific commitments that we will act independently, impartially, and in accordance with our statutory duties at all times.
We have one current Planning Performance Agreement in place at the present time for the implementation phase of the Hinkley C Connections Project.
For Oldbury we have a Shadow PPA in place. Once signed off the PPA will be published here.
Fees and charges for NSIPs
These are approved annually by Executive Member decision. Following a non-rechargeable introductory meeting, our charges for the provision of pre-application, post submission or post consent advice and services for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects will be either:
- as set out in a Planning Performance Agreement or
- at standard hourly rates for officer time or
- as set out in consented NSIP documentation