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  5. 15 December 2011
  6. Minister urges IPC to be more flexible

Minister urges IPC to be more flexible

Planning Minister Bob Neill has urged the Infrastructure Planning Commission to adopt a more flexible stance on whether post-submission amendments mean a scheme requires a fresh application for development consent.

In the letter to IPC chairman Sir Michael Pitt the minister wrote: “It is of crucial importance to the successful operation of the major infrastructure regime that applications are prepared to the highest possible standard before submission.

“But where a pressing need to amend an application post submission, it should be possible, provided those changes are not so substantial that they constitute a new application, to accommodate them.

“This will help to protect the many billions of pounds in new investment, so important to the UK economy, represented by the cases expected to come forward over the next several years.”

Meanwhile, the Commission has confirmed it has received an application from Halite Energy Group Ltd for development consent for a proposed underground gas storage facility to be located at Preesall Saltfield, Over Wire in Lancashire.

The scheme, a smaller version of the former Canatxx project, is the first gas storage plan to reach this stage under the new arrangements for nationally important infrastructure projects. The IPC has 28 days from the day after the date of receipt of an application to decide whether to accept or reject it.

If it is accepted, the application will be examined by IPC Commissioners and only at that time will the application documents will be made available on the IPC website.

Following the examination, the IPC will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change who will make the final decision.

Halite Energy has proposed to create up to 19 purpose-built caverns in the salt field at Preesall to be used for the storage of up to 900m cubic metres of natural gas, including 600m cubic metres of working gas.

Read the minister’s letter to the IPC.

Roger Milne

15 December 2011