The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee of the House of Lords is reporting on two statutory instruments (SIs) which the Government have laid to simplify arrangements for applications for development which may include “fracking”.
The Committee has pointed out shortcomings in the way in which the SIs have been presented to Parliament. It questions whether the Department has adequately thought through its implementation of the underlying policy, and whether the SIs may imperfectly achieve their policy objectives.
The SIs are:
- The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure and Section 62A Applications) (England) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3194).
- The draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
The Order, which came into force on 13 January of this year, changes what applicants for development, including to undertake hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”, are required to do, to notify owners and others. Hitherto, an applicant had to serve a notification on each owner and tenant of the land to which the application relates, as well as publishing a notice in a local newspaper, and putting up a local site notice in each parish in which the land is situated. The Order provides that the applicant is no longer required to give individual notifications to each owner and tenant.
The Regulations, which still have to be approved by Parliament, qualify the way in which fees are calculated for such applications, by excluding from the calculation of fees any part of the site area required solely for underground operations. The Government describe this as a clarification, to reinforce what previous guidance has already set out.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consulted on these proposals for over a six-week period in September and October 2013. There were 162 respondents to the question of notification arrangements: DCLG has told the Committee that seven respondents were in favour of the proposals now implemented in the Order, and 155 respondents were against them. There were 105 responses on the proposals to clarify fee arrangements: DCLG has said that that seven respondents supported the fee proposals now put forward in the Regulations, and 98 opposed them.