James Gillespie and Kirsty Kirkham attended the Infrastructure Show on Monday 17 October in Birmingham where they took in some fascinating talks about major project delivery across rail, road, water and other infrastructure sectors.
Of particular interest, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) set out its plans for merging into the Planning Inspectorate, with effect from April 2012. When this merger takes place there will be an anticipated increase of 3 months in the time taken for application decisions to be made once the Inspectors hand their recommendation to the Secretary of State (SoS). The Inspectors will examine the application within a 12 month period (as per the current IPC) but the SoS then has a further 3 months to consider the application and provide the determination.
Getting the ecology right…
In his talk, Sir Michael Pitt (Chairman of the IPC) specifically mentioned the need for a good ecology baseline upfront and advised that any required surveys should be undertaken at the pre-application stage. Of all the disciplines that could be included in an Environmental Statement, ecology was the only one he mentioned, which gives some measure of the potential significance of ecology to an IPC application and the risk to timescales should an appropriate baseline not be submitted with the application.
We will be providing more news soon about our involvement as project ecologists in the first IPC-determined project to gain development consent.