Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Memorandum submitted by Halite Energy Group (GIB 82)

Introduction

1. Halite Energy Group ("Halite") is promoting an application for a Development Consent Order ("DCO") for an underground gas storage facility in Preesall, Lancashire, with a storage capacity of 900 million cubic metres of natural gas (600 million cubic metres working gas). If granted, the project would involve an investment of £600m [1] into the UK economy.

2. Halite’s application for a DCO has recently been through the examination stage which ended on 24 October 2012. A decision on whether to grant the DCO is expected from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change during April 2013.

Special Parliamentary Procedures

3. In respect of the Bill, Halite only proposes to comment on the proposed amendment to the Planning Act 2008 in respect of Special Parliamentary Procedures. As a promoter of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project ("NSIP"), a fundamental advantage of the PA 2008 process is the certainty of timetable that it provides. Halite’s experience from its own DCO application in terms of timing is a positive one and the examination was concluded within the statutory six month period.

4. However, in parallel with the DCO process, Halite (as would be the case with many other promoters of NSIP) had to contend with the potential engagement of Special Parliamentary Procedure under Sections 128, 129, 131 and 132 PA 2008. Ultimately, by the closure of the Examination, Halite had reached a position where there were no outstanding objections to compulsory purchase to local authorities or statutory undertakers and therefore Sections 128 and 129 have not been engaged. Halite, however, is still dealing with the Department of Communities and Local Government ("DCLG") in respect of its application for a certificate in respect of compulsory acquisition of open space under Sections 131 and 132. Halite is currently waiting to hear from the DCLG as to the next stage in the process and when the certificate will be granted.

5. In contrast to the certainty provided by the Planning Inspectorate in its determination of DCO applications, Special Parliamentary Procedure seems to run in a parallel universe where there is no certainty or clarity as to the timing of the process. The delays to the Covanta Rookery South project clearly demonstrate this. Halite therefore strongly supports the proposed amendments in the Bill in respect of Special Parliamentary Procedure. There appears to be no benefit to holding a separate procedure outside the Examination and the proposed Bill should remove the unsatisfactory position where a discrete element of the process can entirely undermine the overall certainty of programme which the PA 2008 seeks to deliver.

Conclusion

6. Certainty of timescales is central consideration for any funder or investor in NSIP and the recognition of this through the proposed Bill is therefore welcomed by Halite.

December 2012


[1] Regeneris Study – Preesall Underground Gas Storage Facility: Socio Economic Impacts

Prepared 10th December 2012