The digital examination of the South Humber Bank Energy Centre DCO draws to a close

DWD’s Infrastructure and Energy team has provided the planning and consultation support for the South Humber Bank Energy Centre DCO examination, which is due to close next month. The project involves the development of an energy from waste power station with an output of up to 95 megawatts on land at South Humber Bank Power Station in North East Lincolnshire. The environmental impact assessment was prepared by AECOM.

Having put in place company-wide remote working capabilities at the beginning of 2020, DWD was able to submit the DCO application on 9 April 2020 despite the recent onset of COVID-19 restrictions. The acceptance decision was received early, on 4 May 2020.

Image Credit: AECOM Digital

In a written ministerial statement on 13 May Robert Jenrick MP said that planning has a vital role to “support the UK’s economic recovery” and that “moving to digital events and processes will be critical”. By working with the case officers, local planning authority and suppliers DWD was able to put in place additional technology and publicity measures such as pre-loaded loan tablet computers, links on local websites, and electronic notifications. DWD also facilitated the set up of livestreaming of the preliminary meetings and hearings, all of which were conducted on Microsoft Teams by the Planning Inspectorate. Drone video footage of the application site was prepared by AECOM and was accepted by all parties as a safer alternative to an accompanied site visit. Over the six month examination all documentation was submitted electronically and all meetings and hearings were held remotely. It has therefore been the first DCO project to undergo a completely digital examination process.

Recently government legislated to make digital processes a permanent feature of DCO consultations and examinations. The lessons for promoters are to collaborate extensively, provide clear information, and evaluate a wide variety of methods.

For more information please contact Colin Turnbull.