The Panel of Commissions appointed by the Infrastructure Planning Commission announced their decision on 13 October 2011 that development consent should be granted for a Resource Recovery Facility at Rookery South Pit, subject to a Special Parliamentary Procedure.
Bedford Borough Council, Town Hall, St Paul’s Square, Bedford MK 1SJ Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 8.45am – 5.00 pm, Friday 8.45am – 4.45pm. Copying charge: 14p per sheet.
Central Bedfordshire Council, Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Shefford, SG17 5TQ Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am – 5.00pm, Friday 8.30am – 4.00pm. Copying charge: Free for the first 50 pages and then 10p per sheet for black and white copies.
Following the IPC Decision, the Order has been the subject of a Special Parliamentary Procedure (SPP) as it includes the granting of compulsory purchase powers to Covanta to which the Council objected. Some of the land owned by the Council is highway land required for the installation of cabling.The IPC laid the Development Consent Order (DCO) before both Houses of Parliament on 29 November 2011, commencing a 21 day period for individuals, groups or organisations specially and directly affected to petition against the Order.
Both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils decided to submit petitions of general objection against the Order.
Bedford Borough Council Petition of General Objection (PDF 28KB)
Central Bedfordshire Council Petition of General Objection (PDF 306KB)
In addition, the Council's also decided to present petitions for amendment of the Order.
Bedford Borough Council Petition for Amendment (PDF 34KB)
Central Bedfordshire Council Petition for Amendment (PDF 1.6MB)
All 4 petitions were deposited in both Houses of Parliament on 19th December 2011.The petitions were later accepted as valid, and a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament wasappointed to hear evidence on the case, and subsequently has powers to reject the order, amend it or approve it in an unedited form.
Scope of the Joint Committee
The Committee held a short preliminary hearing on the scope of their consideration of the Rookery South Order on Wednesday 11 July 2012. The Committee's decision on the scope of its work was announced on 12 July 2012. The Committee decided it will be hearing the Councils 4 petitions and a further petition submitted by FCC in full.
A copy of the letter sent to the Councils on this matter can be found below:-
Letter to Councils (PDF 41KB)
Further information on the Joint Committee, including its membership and meetings, can be found via the link below:-
UPDATE: Joint Committee Hearings
Joint Committee Hearings and Decision:- The Committee began to hear evidence based on the petitions from 24 October 2012. The Committee Hearings were held in the House of Lords Committee Rooms and were open for members of the public to attend.
The Joint Committee sat for seven days hearing the cases for the two Councils and the third petitioner FCC.
At the conclusion of the evidence from all three petitioners on 12 December 2012, the Committee went into recess for a short period. The chairman then announced their decision that there was no case to answer in respect of any of the main petitions. These had been seeking to have the whole scheme turned down. The Committee did however consider that there was a case to answer in respect of amendments proposed to the scheme by the Councils in relation to the Bedford-Milton Keynes Waterway.
Covanta and the Councils then proceeded to reach agreement on how the matters covered by those amendments might be dealt with. In essence, a section 106 agreement was agreed which requires Covanta to provide up to £3,375,000 towards the cost of the works required for construction of the waterway.
Further meetings of the committee were held on 19 December 2012 and 13 February 2013 at which Covanta and the Councils updated the Joint Committee on progress with completing the agreement. The Committee then proceeded to finalised its Special Report of its findings which was published on 28 February 2013. A copy can be found below:-
First Special Report of Session 2012-2013 (PDF 1MB)
The Development Consent Order, which authorises Covanta to carry out the development, was then issued on 25 March 2013. A copy can be found below:-
The Rookery South (Resource Recovery Facility) Order 2011 (PDF 219KB)
The Rookery South RRF will also comprise:
- Ancillary plant, equipment and buildings to accommodate the development;
- a facility to enable steam pass-outs and/or hot water pass outs (Combined Heat and Power) for potential off site users of process or space heating;
- internal site roads, car and HGV parking;
- landscaping and habitat creation with any related fencing or boundary treatments;
- site access to the RRF from Green Lane together with the improvement/ upgrading of the junction of the site access with Green Lane;
- provision of footpaths, cycleways and footpath linkages (which may include a footbridge over the Marston Vale Branch Railway Line);
- electricity grid connection infrastructure (including substation(s);
- a visitor interpretation/ educational facility;
- foul drainage provision and surface water management systems;
- the demolition of the existing former conveyor structure on the site;
- improvements to Marston Vale station level crossing.
The facility would be built in a former clay pit known as ‘Rookery South Pit’. This is located south of Stewartby village and to the east of the Marston Vale Millennium Country Park.
The site of the Resource Recovery Facility is within Central Bedfordshire. However, parts of development as a whole are within Bedford Borough. Therefore, both authorities will be formally consulted on the proposal by the IPC.
The categories of development that are considered to be 'nationally significant' are set out in The Planning Act 2008 and include various transport related projects as well as power stations and waste water projects. The Government sees this as a way of getting major applications that are of national importance determined within an agreed timescale whilst still allowing local authorities, other stakeholders and local residents to be involved in the process of determination.
There are thresholds set out in The Planning Act 2008 which specify what is 'nationally significant' and to be determined by the IPC rather than through the planning process. With a generating station - a category that an Energy from Waste proposal would fall into - it would be 'nationally significant' if its electrical output is more than 50 megawatts (MWe). The Covanta proposal would have a capacity of 65 MWe.
As the Covanta proposal is for an onshore power generating station in England having a capacity in excess of 50 MWe the application was submitted to the IPC for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to authorise its construction and operation.
A DCO covers not only the conditions or ‘requirements’ under which it is built - as with a planning permission - but all the other consents required, including compulsory acquisition of land, to enable the development to go ahead. The intention, with the IPC process, is to have a ‘one stop shop’ so that the developer does not have to apply for a number of separate consents before development can commence – rather they are dealt with at the same time and by the same body.
Even before the IPC was set up by the Government a proposal such as that put forward by Covanta would have fallen under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and would have been submitted to the relevant Secretary of State for determination. Up until March 2010, when the IPC 'opened for business', the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change would have determined any energy proposals with a capacity of over 50 MWe. It would not have been determined locally.
This is a new process and this proposal has been the first to be decided this way.
The process has 6 key stages, which are briefly as follows:
The IPC was made aware of the application and included it in the list of anticipated projects. A scoping exercise was undertaken and Covanta consulted with the relevant local authorities, statutory and no-statutory bodies, other consultees, interest groups and the public in developing its proposal.
Covanta produced a Preliminary Environmental Report (PER) on the proposal which gave consultees with an opportunity to comment on the methodologies used and the level of information supplied.
The formal response of both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils to the PER was submitted prior to the consultation deadline of 5 April 2010.
The Acceptance Stage
On 5 August 2010 an application for Development Consent Order (DCO) was submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) by Covanta Energy Limited
Covanta submitted a Consultation Report as part of the application. This Report sets out the nature and extent of the consultation undertaken before the application was submitted, the comments received and what account has been taken of these comments. The adequacy of the consultation undertaken is a very important part of the acceptance process.
The IPC wrote to Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils and adjacent authorities to ask whether the pre-application consultation undertaken by Covanta was acceptable. The Councils had 14 days in which to formally respond to this consultation.
The IPC had to decide within 28 days of the start of the Acceptance Stage whether or not the application can be accepted for its consideration. A formal decision was issued on 26 August 2010 to accept the application.
Following acceptance of the application the IPC published the application documents on its website for the public, consultees and other interested parties to view.
The Pre-Examination phase
Started once the application had been accepted.
Covanta Energy Limited publicised where the application could be viewed and notified prescribed consultees, relevant local authorities and those with an interest in the land (landowners, tenants, occupiers). The period to register an interest and to make initial representations ran for 42 days from 7 October until 19 November 2010.
The Rookery South RRF planning submission documents and plans, are available to view on the IPC website under specific web pages set up for the Covanta proposal.
This was an opportunity for everyone to register and to make an initial representation giving the Commission notice of a person’s or an organisation’s interest in, or objection to, the application. At this stage the representation were only a summary of the main issues as the main opportunity to submit detailed representations will be at the Examination Stage following the preliminary meeting.
The IPC produced an Advice Note on how to register as an interested party and how to make representations. The IPC also scheduled drop in sessions on Friday 22 October where representatives from Planning Aid and the IPC were available to help answer queries about how to have your say
Details of these Drop in Sessions giving the locations and times for the visits were on the IPC website.
It was important that all people and organisations that wanted to be involved took the opportunity to register with the IPC as an interested party at this stage and to make their initial representations on the proposal. Anyone who is registered was be kept informed of progress of the application and further opportunities to get involved.
Once the registration period had finished all relevant representations received were posted on the IPC website. There was a further period of 21 days in which interested parties could comment on these representations. During this time the IPC also reviewed the application and relevant representations to make an initial assessment of the principal issues arising.
It was only at this stage that the Commissioners were appointed to examine the proposal. The IPC appointed three Commissioners to examine the proposal. These were Paul Hudson, lead commissioner, Emrys Parry and Andrew Philipson.
The Commissioners held a preliminary meeting at which all registered interested parties were invited to attend – which includes all those that registered an interest in the proposal on the IPC website. This meeting was held on 17th January 2011. At this meeting procedural matters on how the application is to be examined were discussed. This includes setting deadlines for the submission of the Local Impact Report, receipt of detailed written representations and when any hearing or hearings will take place.
The official notification of the Preliminary Meeting and the draft timetable for the Examination Stage are set out below:
Commissioners (PDF 42KB)
Preliminary Meeting (PDF 57KB)
Preliminary Meeting FAQ's (PDF 197KB)
The Examination Stage
Following the Preliminary Meeting on 17 January 2011, the commissioners finalised the timetable, their written questions, principal issues and methods of examination. These are set out in the document below. Also included in this document is a note of the Preliminary meeting
Procedural Decision following Preliminary Meeting (PDF 147KB)
Putting your case on an application to the IPC - Advice Note (PDF 979KB)
Second round of questions from the IPC (PDF 41KB)
Notice publicising the Hearing on 13 May 2011 (PDF 15KB)
All of the Councils submissions made during the examination stage can be found under the " Representations and Reports" heading.
Close of Examination: 15 July 2011
A letter was issued by the IPC on 15 July 2011 announcing its completion of the examination of the application. A decision will be issued within 3 months.
Letter of Notice of Close of Examination (PDF 216KB)
The Decision phase
The Examining Authority the had up to 3 months to make a decision as to whether or not the application for the Development Consent Order should be granted (see "IPC Decision and Special Parliamentary Procedure" heading).
Post Decision phase
There is a period of 6 weeks within which the decision can be challenged once the DCO has been issued (see "IPC Decision and Special Parliamentary Procedure" heading).
The determination process is set out in detail on the IPC website.
Covanta undertook detailed discussions with statutory and non statutory bodies on the proposal at the scoping and pre-application stages. Extensive consultation has also taken place. The consultation has involved door-to door information drops to homes and businesses within 5km of the site; the establishment of a Community Liaison Panel; and a series of exhibitions as well as individual letters to councillors, landowners, local community representatives and others who have expressed an interest in the proposal. Covanta prepared a comprehensive Consultation Report setting out the consultation undertaken and representations and comments received during the pre-application stage. This was submitted with the application for Development Order Consent and The Councils were invited to comment on its adequacy.
There was the opportunity to register with the IPC and to make representations on the proposal (see pre-examination stage). This can be followed through with more detailed representations in the Examination Stage.
Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council are 'statutory consultees' for the proposed new Resource Recovery Facility proposed at Rookery South.
In this role we both have a duty to the community and to the environment to ensure that the proposal is robustly examined and challenged and that the communities affected are widely consulted and their views taken into account in the decision making process.
Formal responses were submitted to the IPC at the Pre-examination stage setting out Central Bedfordshire Council initial representations (PDF 111KB) and Bedford Borough Council initial representations (PDF 109KB)on the proposal.
The Council is not responsible for making the final decision about the resource recovery facility. This duty is carried out by the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
Both Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council submitted their written representations to the IPC on 28 February 2011.
Bedford Borough Written Representations (PDF 380KB)
Bedford Borough Appendices Structure
Appendix 6.1a Noise Report Appendices 1-2 (PDF 6MB)
Appendix 6.1b Noise Report Appendices 3-4 (PDF 212KB)
Appendix 6.c Noise Report Appendices 5-6 (PDF 2.4MB)
Amendment to MAS Noise report (PDF 393KB)
Appendix 9.1 Residual Waste Treatment Facilities Tables (PDF 39KB)
Appendix 9.2 Residual Waste Treatment Facilities Map (PDF 2.4MB)
Appendix 10.1 Proposals Map from Allocations and Designations (PDF 558KB)
Appendix 12.1 Revised Development Consent Order (PDF 4.6MB)
Appendix 12.2 Model Works Order (PDF 253KB)
Appendix 13.1 Tracked draft of proposed requirements (PDF 4.1MB)
Appendix 13.2 Clean draft of proposed requirements (PDF 1.1MB)
Appendix 14.1 Draft S106 as at 28 February 2011 (PDF 1.7MB)
Central Bedfordshire Written Representations (PDF 8.6MB)
Also submitted on 28 February 2011, were Local Impacts Reports and responses to the Examining Authority's written questions:-
In line with the Procedural Decision following the Preliminary Meeting (see Examination Stage above) interested parties may make comment on the above by 28 March 2011 to the IPC
Copies of all representations made by interested parties and Covanta will be placed on the IPC website (http://infrastructure.independent.gov.uk/projects/eastern/rookery-south-energy-from-waste-generating-station/). The IPC will also be issuing both Councils with a paper copies and when received this will be made available for public viewing at Central Bedfordshire Council's Offices at Priory House, Chicksands and at Bedford Borough Council's offices at Town Hall, Bedford. The representations may be copied in whole or part on request and subject to a photocopying charge.
Responses to Covanta's written representations, including Covanta's responses to the Examining Authority's written questions
Both Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council submitted comments on Covanta's written representations and responses to the Examining Authority's first written questions before the deadline of 28 March 2011.
The Examining Authority’s further Written questions and requests for information.
Following receipt of all interested parties responses the Examining Authority set out in a letter dated 11 April 2011 further written questions and requests for information.
Examining Authority's further written questions (PDF 476KB)
This letter asked for replies to the questions by 9 May 2011. The Council's replies can be found below. Any responses to these replies must by sent to the Examining Authority by 6 June 2011.
Bedford Borough Council Covering letter (PDF 248KB)
Comments on responses to the Examining Authority's further Written questions and requests for information
The Council's submitted comments on Covanta's response to the Examining Authority's further written questions by 6 June 2011. The submissions also included the latest drafts of the Development Consent Order, requirements and S106 undertakings in advance of the Issue Specific Hearing on these matters on 13 June 2011.
Statement on final version of the DCO,including the requirements
At the Issue Specific Hearing on Legal Matters on 13th June 2011 the Lead Commissioner, Paul Hudson, requested that the applicant, Covanta Energy Limited, supplied a final version of the draft DCO including requirements, and the completed and signed S106 agreement by 8th July 2011.
Additionally the two Councils and the 25 Parish Councils were each requested to submit, by the same deadline, a statement setting out any parts of the final versions of the draft Development Consent Order (DCO) including the requirements with which they disagree or matters which they continue to wish to see included in either the DCO or the Section 106 Agreement.
The Councils statements can be found below:-
Bedford Borough Response (PDF 32KB)
Central Bedfordshire Response (PDF 165KB)
Changes to written representations to reflect finalised versions of the National Policy Statements"
The IPC wrote to all interested parties on 23 June 2011 advising that the Secretary of State for Climate Change has laid the six finalised Energy National Planning Statements before Parliament for approval.
As such all interested parties were invited to submit written representations on the points made in previous representations that would have been expressed differently had the finalised versions of the NPSs been available at the time. The Councils made the following representations by the deadline of 6 July 2011:-
National Policy Statement Letter June 2011 (PDF 28KB)
The Councils Formal Comments July 2011 (PDF 52KB)
The Covanta Energy application for a Resource Recovery Facility at Rookery South is considered to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). As such it falls to be considered by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) as an electricity generation facility producing over 50MW of power.
The IPC receives a staged fee from Covanta Energy Limited for the determination of this application. However, the local authority - in this case both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils, is a consultee with a significant role in all stages of the process but with no right to receive a fee for this ongoing input.
The Councils consider that there should be funding made available from central government to cover the staff time and costs involved with the assessment of this proposal. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Communities and Local Government (CLG) have indicated that no additional resources will be made available from central government for dealing with projects determined by the IPC. Instead, it has been suggested that Local Authorities should consider entering into Planning Performance Agreements with developers to secure the additional resources needed.
Planning Performance Agreements were originally set up by the Government to facilitate the management of applications for large scale development that would eventually be determined by local authorities. However, it is now acknowledged that a Planning Performance Agreement may be the only mechanism available to local authorities to obtain financial recompense for the work involved in dealing with projects determined by the IPC as there is no fee payable and no separate funding available.
A Planning Performance Agreement establishes a lawful and transparent means of securing funding to reduce the financial burden on the Councils of participating in the IPC process. Any payments requested are on a ‘not for profit basis’ and the terms on which any payment are made are set out in the agreement. The powers under which the Councils can enter into a Planning Performance Agreement are those in the Town & Country Planning Act 1990, as amended, Section 111 Local Government Act 1972 and Section 93 Local Government Act 2003.
A significant amount of work was undertaken by council officers in both authorities in assessing the RRF proposed at Rookery South. Detailed Representations were submitted to the IPC by both Councils in respect to the proposal and the Local Impact Report has also been produced. However, notwithstanding this, negotiations were ongoing throughout the process between the Councils and Covanta Energy in respect to the wording and drafting of the Development Consent Order; the Requirements that would be applied – these are similar to planning conditions, and the associated Planning Obligation which sets out various benefits and obligations on the part of the developer. Even though both Councils were opposing the proposed RRF it was important that these negotiations to take place to ensure that in the event of an approval, the terms under which it is approved, minimise harm to the environment and local amenity and provide the maximum benefit to the local communities.
Central Bedfordshire Council hosts the minerals and waste planning service for both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils and, as such, it has been playing a leading role in co-ordinating the response to the IPC on the Resource Recovery Facility proposed by Covanta. Central Bedfordshire Council signed a Planning Performance Agreement with Covanta Energy which assisted with the cost of officer time taken up in the negotiation of these legal documents. Participation in these discussions did not infer that the Council will be expected to change its overall stance in respect to the proposal.
Signed Planning Performance Agreement (PDF 607KB)
Covanta energy - meeting notes
This includes presentations on:-
- Combined Heat and Power
- Transport Forecast
- Plume Visibility
- CO2 Emissions
- Air Quality Presentation
- Health Impact Assessment
Contact details for the Minerals & Waste Planning Team
The co-ordination of consultation and preparation of reports on the proposal, including the LIR, will be undertaken by the Minerals and Waste Team that operates a shared service for both Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough Councils.