We are now into the first step in the DCO process- the Preliminary Meeting – which is taking place online (livestreamed and recorded), in two parts:
Part 1 on 23 & 24 March (completed).
Part 2 on 14 April (no agenda yet). The Planning Inspectorate is inviting new written (emailed) submissions by end of Wednesday 7 April (Deadline B): these should be sent by email to email@example.com, addressing…
* The Examination procedure and timetable in response to matters raised orally at Preliminary Meeting Part 1.
* Requests to be heard orally at Preliminary Meeting Part 2. Note that requests must demonstrate the issue is new (i.e. not raised in Part 1, or is a new point about a matter that was raised in Part 1); or is the subject of an outstanding disagreement (i.e. parties have requested different procedural approaches on which the ExA needs to adjudicate as part of any Procedural Decision). PINS is not expecting that many people will have something new or relating to a disagreement to say, but see point 2 below for NEW information. If you don’t request to speak you will be expected to watch the livestream rather than participate in the meeting but we DO recommend you tell PINS that Stop Sizewell C will speak on your behalf. If you do this please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Preliminary Meetings focus on process: how the examinations will be run, and what topics will be examined. The Inspectors will not consider any points about your opposition to Sizewell C.
We recommend that you comment on:
1. Technical issues. We recommend that you explain problems you OR they experienced and explain how this makes you disadvantaged eg video freezing, echoey sound, livestream not always working, issues with Teams such as incompatibility with ipads/taking up disk space etc, health effects of looking at a flickering screen. The more complex the process, the more people will drop out. (NB joining future meetings via a web browser may take less bandwidth than using the Teams App).
– Emphasise the critical importance of returning to in-person meetings ASAP.
2. Timing of the examination.
– NEW! The Scottish Power Renewables DCO examination has just been extended by 3 months (now running until early July). This is in recognition of the impact of the pandemic on people’s ability to respond, and the extensive amount of new information. Given the “unusually large and complex application” (the words of EDF’s counsel) and ongoing restrictions on face to face meetings, we feel a delay to the start of the Sizewell C examination would be totally appropriate.
– We remain very concerned that the Planning Inspectorate will not decide whether to accept EDF’s application until the examination is due to have started. Every day lost will disadvantage those with limited resources. We urge PINS to delay the start of the examination until after this decision is taken. This could be done by convening a Part 3 of the Preliminary Meeting or by any other means at the Examining Authorities disposal.
– Suffolk County Council’s elections and delay until cabinet appointments are made mean there will be no Sizewell C lead from 14 April until the end of May.
– The SPR DCO is now running to 6 July and many people are taking part in both. Even though PINS is endeavouring to timetable both events so they do not clash, there is a great deal of material on both applications to be assessed, lending more weight to the call for the start of the examination to be delayed.
– The volume of people wishing to take part means there should be flexibility to allow sufficient Open Floor Hearings.
– The Applicant’s claim of urgency is not valid. There is no funding model in place, nor likely to be for some months after the end of the examination.
3. Principal Issues.
If you have any NEW principal issues, raise them here.
– Coastal Defences. (see also 5). We are concerned that EDF is pushing this critical issue off the examination and onto the Office of Nuclear Regulation’s site licensing process. EDF’s coastal defence plans are incomplete, and late submission of applications for site licenses means that complete plans may not be available in the examination, potentially subverting the process. EDF is relying on a “Rochdale envelope” approach (defining a range rather than exact calculations) but it is our understanding that the Applicant must not use this approach extensively or over-rely on it, so we consider it very important that coastal defences are examined in public.
We will also reiterate the following issues for specific inclusion:
– Sizewell C’s life cycle assessment of CO2 emissions/contribution to net zero
– Financing, not just for compulsory acquisition
– Under Policy & Need the Applicant’s consideration of alternative sites
– Under Policy & Need the review of the National Policy Statements
– Under Marine Ecology the removal of the Acoustic Fish Deterrent
– Under Air Quality, impacts of borrow pits (quarries) and spoil heaps on local communities.
4. EDF’s new proposals
– See above for comments on timing of the Examining Authority’s decision.
– If the new proposals are accepted, all documentation needs to be fully integrated as they are currently very difficult to manage.
5. The tone of the Meeting
– At times it was very unclear which agenda item we were on.
– Concern about EDF’s counsel’s use of the expression “important interested parties”. Who are unimportant interested parties?
– Some speakers were interrupted from making valid comments on Day 2.
– The Inspectors allowed EDF’s counsel to provide an explanation about use of the “Rochdale envelope” from EDF’s perspective, which was inappropriate given that PINS has its own guidance on the use and limits of this approach.
NB we recommend deferring suggestions on site visits until Deadline 1, 12 May. EDF needs to submit proposals by 7 April – but you may want to think about itinerary, times of day, directions to look etc). If you like, you can express concern that the Examining Authority should not visit Hinkley Point without other accompaniment besides EDF.
If you want a reminder of what was said in Part 1, you can find transcripts and recordings of Days 1 and 2 here. Apparently EDF’s counsel, Hereward Philpott, is referred to in transcripts as Mr Fell Apart!
Some notes about the conduct of the meeting
a. Everyone who requests to speak will receive a message with joining instructions the day before the meeting. Therefore if you request to speak you can assume you will be given the opportunity to do so.
b. The Meeting will be held online using Microsoft Teams. Since participants are required to have video and microphone off, there is no real benefit joining via the Teams App; joining via a web-browser will be just as good and may be more compatible with your device. [If you just want to watch, the livestream link will be published on the PINS SZC web portal shortly before the meeting starts]
c. The Examining Authority will call as many people as possible to speak, in general asking Statutory consultees and organisations before individuals. The Examining Authority is unable to allocate timings to the agenda or for individuals being called to speak, so if you want to speak you will need to commit to being in the meeting for the duration and wait to be called.
d. The Examining Authority has suggested individuals with shared views choose someone to speak for them, to avoid repetition. You are welcome to nominate Stop Sizewell C (Alison) to speak for you, but equally you are welcome to speak as an individual. The Examining Authority is unlikely to call everyone with similar views, but we’ve been assured that anyone who wishes to make a point that has not previously been made will have the opportunity to speak. Note that the Examining Authority will not wish to hear your objections to Sizewell C during the Preliminary Meetings.
e. Your contribution to the meeting should be based on the points you make when you apply to speak, although you need not repeat these verbally. It is an opportunity to add any points you have thought of subsequently. If you are called and some or all of your points have been made, we advise you to endorse those speakers and add any details that you think may have been missing or need emphasis. Introduce yourself, be respectful of the Examining Body and express appreciation for the opportunity to speak. This will make it more likely you get to have your say!
Stop Sizewell C is working hard to try and support everyone to take part in the planning process. We will issue guidance as often as we have new information, but it’s already becoming evident that we need to find a better way to deal with individual questions. We ask for your forbearance with this, so that we can retain capacity for campaigning – which remains our priority – as well as responding to the DCO examination as it develops.
We therefore ask you to address questions about the examination process to the Planning Inspectorate in the first instance, as:
a) They are a dedicated government resource with a team tasked to helping all of us engage in this process
b) It is important that they know if people are struggling. It potentially creates a misleading situation if, by directing procedural questions at us, the Planning Inspectorate is lulled into thinking everyone is fine! This is especially true if you are struggling with the technology. If you are finding Teams difficult, you should tell them as soon as possible, so they know that you may be disadvantaged.
You can email the Inspectorate on email@example.com or call the Sizewell C team on 0303 444 5678.
We will continue to help you on issues within our limited resources, as much as possible through our updates and a more regular programme of Zoom meetings. Thank you for your understanding.
Watch our briefing on Preliminary Meetings below.
Points you may like to make :
You can adapt the following points to use in the form above. It is vital you rewrite these in your own words, or the Examining Authority will not allow you – or us – to speak! If you really don’t wish to speak, or are not registered as an interested party, please send your version of these points by email to SizewellC@planninginspectorate.gov.uk.
Agenda Item 2: Item 4 and Item 5 are in the wrong order.
Agenda Item 4: This covers the principal issues, but since it is based on our Relevant Representations submitted last September, issues arising from EDF’s revised proposals will not be included.
- (As above) Item 4 should come after item 5.
- The Principal Issues must include coastal erosion (not just as a result of climate change) and more specifically examine EDF’s sea defences and their impact.
- The Climate Change issue should include the contribution of the project to net zero.
Agenda Item 5: It is unclear exactly when the Examining Authority will take the decision to accept EDF’s revised proposals for examination. This makes preparing to submit future Written Representations very difficult, as we don’t know which proposals to respond to.
Agenda Item 6: Timetable and format of meetings.
- The Preliminary Meetings coincide the County Council going into pre-election “purdah” (24 March – 6 May). There will be no new County Council until 7 May. We are concerned this will affect representation.
- The Scottish Power Renewables DCO is still running until 6 April. This overlap will put a burden on Council officers, NGOs and individuals.
- The examination runs throughout the summer. With hopes of lockdown lifting in June, people will be looking to take their first holidays in many, many months.
- The Examining Authority should use in-person meetings as soon as covid restrictions permit.
- We expect many people will wish to speak, so the Examining Authority should allow for Open Floor Hearings to continue throughout the process, based on need.
- Recommendation: Since the Preliminary Meetings do not adhere to a strict timeframe (while the main examination MUST by law end 6 months after the close of the Preliminary Meetings) we urge the Examining Authority to delay the Preliminary Meetings, or the extend the period between Parts 1 and 2 to be at least 6 weeks, to address the concerns above.
What Happens Next?
If you do not apply to speak there may be a second chance in Part 2 of the Preliminary Meeting on 14 April (with a deadline to apply of 7 April).
Once the Preliminary Meetings close the Examining Authority will publish a detailed timetable of different hearings: Open Floor (for anyone to speak), Compulsory Acquisition (for those affected personally) and Issue Specific Hearings. See the rough outline below. We hope some of these events will take place in-person.
Please encourage your Parish/Town Council to ask to speak at the Preliminary Meetings. We will be sharing lessons learnt from the Scottish Power Renewables DCO and will coordinate as much as possible.
Our page with an overview of the Planning Process can be found here: www.stopsizewellc.org/planning
|TIMELINE for SIZEWELL C DCO EXAMINATION|
|Deadline for responding to Rule 6 letter and request to speak at Preliminary Meetings||10 March|
|Preliminary Meeting(s)||23/24 March & 14 April|
|Publication of full Examination Timetable||21 April|
|Open Floor Hearings (deadline 12 May)||19 – 21 May|
|Deadline for Written Representations||26 May|
|Site inspections||8 – 10 June|
|Issue Specific Hearings
Compulsory Acquisition Hearings
More visits/Open Floor Hearings/ Issue Specific hearings
|Examination must end||14 October|
|Additional key dates
PINS recommendation to Secretary of State
Mid January 2022
|Secretary of State decision||Mid April 2022|