Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, Dr Dan Poulter, has written to Government Ministers, expressing his concern over any potential attempts by EDF to submit their application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) amidst the current Coronavirus restrictions.
Dr Poulter has been contacted by a great many residents who have a number of concerns in regards to the application. Notably many organisations, including the Planning Inspectorate and County and District Councils, are working with reduced staffing levels and remote working practices. This would undoubtedly cause difficulty as the DCO application must be considered within the first 28 days. County and District Councils are mandated to respond to questions about EDF’s community consultation during the 28 day period and it is vital that council officers are not distracted from delivering essential frontline services during the battle against Coronavirus.
Opportunities for genuine public consultation are also greatly curtailed as public meetings are not permitted. With current Government guidance for people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, it would not be appropriate for EDF to submit their DCO application at at the current time.
Speaking about the application, Dr Poulter said “Whilst I welcome EDF’s decision on 26th March to defer submitting its application for development consent, I do share the concerns of residents and a number of Councillors in my constituency,have reservations about the suggestion that this deferment may only last for a few weeks. Due to the significant local and national impacts of an application of this scale, it is imperative that sufficient time and resource is made available to consider this application fully.”
“It is essential that due process is followed and that any application is fully open and transparent; this means that communities and all relevant stakeholders can have their say and their views should be heard as part of a genuine and meaningful constultation.”
“I have no doubt that the current COVID-19 restrictions would inhibit full and proper consideration of the application and this is why I have called upon Government Ministers to insist upon due diligence being shown in respect of this important application.”