Risk assessment for major infrastructure projects

The Planning Act 2008 provides the consenting regime for granting planning and other consents for nationally significant infrastructure projects. These are large scale developments for nationally significant infrastructure such as harbours, airports, roads, power generation and electricity transmission lines.

Waterside infrastructureObtaining consent under the 2008 Act involves a front-loaded process where the developer consults on a proposed project before submitting an application. The application is then examined by a single inspector or panel of inspectors from the Planning Inspectorate, known as the Examining Authority. On completion of the examination, the Examining Authority will provide a recommendation report to the Secretary of State who will decide whether development should be granted. The consultation process is as follows:

  1. Pre-application stage
  2. Acceptance stage
  3. Pre-examination
  4. Examination stage
  5. Decision stage
  6. Post decision stage

The pre-application stage is very much controlled by the applicant and unlike conventional planning applications this is the most important stage for those potentially affected by the proposals. The requirement is for the applicant to consult with interested parties, but the onus is very much on those parties making appropriate responses to the information made available. Once this opportunity to influence the development proposals has passed there is less opportunity to influence proposals during the later stages of the process.

It is crucial for consultees to be able to provide effective, targeted and relevant responses at the earliest possible juncture.

Development Consent Order

Through our substantive involvement with the Development Consent Order (DCO) process for numerous significant infrastructure projects, we recognise the technical challenges consultees face when  preparing such responses at the early stages are:

  • The details of the scheme may not be developed to a very high level of resolution.
  • The applicant’s initial assessments are often high level and based on assumptions that are not supported by the evidence available in the early stages.
  • The understanding of the baseline conditions is not readily available, and data is often in the process of being collected or prepared.
  • The assessment of potential effects is not clearly identifiable or set out with precision
  • The scope of the required mitigation is not established.

Our experience

JBA Consulting has supported consultees navigate the DCO process for projects including the nuclear new build projects for Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and Bradwell B, and for Heathrow Airport Expansion. We have drawn on unrivalled knowledge and expertise in flood risk to provide insightful support to inform consultation responses.

Our ability to rely on recognised industry flood risk and climate change experts combined with our experience and knowledge of terrestrial and marine hydrology and modelling provides for a competent understanding of the issues from the outset. This enables us to provide technical support for consultation responses that is material and influential from the initial stages of the DCO process.

Our understanding of baseline risk is augmented by our familiarity with preparing Strategic Flood Risk Assessments, Flood Risk Assessments and extreme hazard data for plans, major proposals and significant infrastructure. This insight is essential in evaluating whether the proposed methods to assess scheme effects are appropriate.

Want to know more?

Email Alastair Dale for more information about the DCO process and risk assessments for major infrastructure projects.

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