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784: Infrastructure planning predictions for 2018

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784: Infrastructure planning predictions for 2018
Leave your thoughts Angus Walker

By Angus Walker

As is now traditional for the first post of the year (although this is actually the second post of the year), here are some predictions for 2018 in infrastructure planning.

Three applications will be decided in 2018

The Planning Act’s fixed timescales mean it is reasonably easy to predict the number of decisions made each year, since every undecided application that has had its preliminary meeting should be decided during the year. Having said that I was wrong for the last three years due to decisions being delayed. This figure is less than half of last year’s prediction, which was less than half of the previous year’s, reflecting the reduced number of applications being made.

All three will be approvals

All decisions were approved until 11 September 2015, but four have been refused since then. This year I think we’ll get a clean sheet.

Two National Policy Statements will be published in draft

I made this prediction one and two years ago and I’m sticking to it! (ie I was wrong both times…) I think that NPSs for nuclear power and water supply will see the light of day this year.

No judicial reviews of DCO decisions will be successful

A repeat of the last couple of years’ predictions. The only JR that has been successful so far is still that to overturn the refusal of the Preesall gas storage decision.

Eight applications will be made this year

There being no active large applications for me to predict decision dates, this is a new type of prediction and one that could go horribly wrong as it is based on little more than a hunch. We shall see.

No applications will contain housing in 2018

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has allowed an element of housing in DCO applications, and the section that provides for this was brought into force in April 2017. Even so, I don’t think an application containing housing will come forward this year.

The Planning Act 2008 regime will not be amended by primary legislation

I claimed to get this right last year but it has been pointed out to me that the Wales Act 2017 amended the Planning Act regime with respect to nationally significant infrastructure projects in Wales, so I got that wrong. Oh well. I am re-predicting it this year, though.

An application for a business or commercial project will be made

I’m trying this one for the fourth time having been wrong for the last three years – surely being right gets more and more likely. Two commercial projects have been given the green light to use the Planning Act regime, but there haven’t been any others and neither of them has actually made their application.

The National Infrastructure Commission will publish its final National Infrastructure Assessment

The National Infrastructure Commission should complete its main job this year, that of publishing a National Infrastructure Assessment. Will the government publish its response and whether it endorses the recommendations it contains? I’m not going to make that prediction.

This blog will clock up 825 posts in 2018

The only prediction within my control, and I’ve set myself a reasonably achievable target considering this is post number 784. Nevertheless I hope to keep you entertained and informed as we go through another rollercoaster year in infrastructure.

Winner of the Champagne Competition

And finally, the results of last year’s Christmas Champagne competition. This generated a lot of interest but only a select few managed to solve it fully. The correct answer was: ‘The total volume of scour protection for use with WTGs within Work No 1(a) shall not exceed 2,277,000m³’ (obviously…).

Here is how to arrive at that answer. A cryptogram was set, as follows: ‘Slyy acdl! Dcs ncr uel ewra owru. Uelrl wrl wdcuelr usc quloq uc qcytl uel omxxyl nmyyi.’

Either an online solver or some trial and error will yield the answer to this as ‘Well done! Now for the hard part. There are another two steps to solve the puzzle fully.’. I got a lot of entries that just got that far, either ignoring the content of the message or seeking further clues, but it was possible to continue without any further help.

The key to progress was my choice of letters for the cryptogram. Writing them out in alphabetical order with their encoded equivalents gives:


That was the second step. The third was to look up Walney DCO requirement six, which gives the answer. Of the select few who submitted fully correct answers, the successful entrant drawn out of the hat was Tim Fearn, DCLG, or should I say MHCLG. Congratulations to him, and thank you to everyone who entered!

10 January 2018

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