In Summer 2015, a number of decisions were made by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change that provided clarification on which elements of the WEC could be included within a DCO application and which elements needed to be consented via a different planning consenting process regime. As a result, WPL has been compelled to make two separate applications, a DCO Application to the Planning Inspectorate for the Wrexham Energy Centre’s Power Station Complex Site and a planning application, to Wrexham County Borough Council for the Gas Connection.
Our DCO Application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in March 2016, after a period of assessing the Application it was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate and has moved forward to the examination stage.
See below for details of the consenting process for the two applications:
Wrexham Energy Centre’s Power Station Complex Site
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
The Wrexham Energy Centre’s Power Station Complex constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) as it has a generating capacity of over 50MWe.
NSIPs can be onshore power stations, offshore wind farms, major road or rail projects and, most recently, major commercial developments.
In order to build an NSIP, a promoter needs to obtain a Development Consent Order (DCO) - a form of planning consent that grants powers to build an NSIP.
Planning Inspectorate's role
The Planning Inspectorate is the government agency that is responsible for managing the consenting process for NSIP.
The Planning Inspectorate has received and accepted our DCO application for the Wrexham Energy Centre’s Power Station Complex. They are currently undertaking a public examination of our application.
Once the examination is complete, it will make a recommendation, on whether to grant the DCO, to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
The Secretary of State will ultimately decide on whether to grant the DCO.
The DCO determination process
Submitted the DCO application in March 2016.
After submitting the application, the Planning Inspectorate checked the submission documents and accepted the application for examination.
The Planning Inspectorate invited everyone who may have had an interest in our application to register for participation in the examination. They also set a timetable for the examination.
Examination took place over six months. The Planning Inspectorate's appointed inspector oversaw the examination. He asked the applicant and participants to respond to written questions and held public hearings in September and November 2016.
The Planning Inspectorate has three months from 19 January 2017 to write a report that recommends whether or not the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should grant a DCO for the Wrexham ’s Power Station Complex.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will then make the final decision no later than 19 July 2017.
After a decision is made, there is a six-week period in which to challenge the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s decision.
It can take up to 15-18 months from the acceptance of the DCO application to the Secretary of State making his or her decision.
Wrexham Energy Centre’s Gas Connection
In order to operate and generate electricity the Wrexham Energy Centre needs to connect to the UK gas network and the nearest connection point is adjacent to the Maelor Gas Works near Talwrn, 2.5km from the site.
The Wrexham Energy Centre’s Gas Connection is considered ‘associated development’. This applies to infrastructure that supports an NSIP in Wales. Any associated development for NSIPs in Wales requires local planning permission. We therefore submitted a planning application to Wrexham County Borough Council for the Wrexham Energy Centre’s Gas Connection. This application was granted consent in September 2016.
Wrexham Energy Centre’s Electrical Connection
The Wrexham Energy Centre’s Electrical Connection will be SP Energy Network’s (SPEN) responsibility, who is the local electrical network operator or ‘Distribution Network Operator’, as the Wrexham Energy Centre will connect directly to its local electrical network.
WPL has applied to SPEN for this connection, which has confirmed this will be routed underground using buried cables.