Reservoir Planning & Consents Streamlining Group

The aim of this group is to try to make the whole process of creating storage reservoirs more streamline for both the regulators and applicants alike. The group comprises Environment Agency, Natural England, Suffolk Coastal District Council planning; Suffolk County council archaeology, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and a consultant involved in reservoir projects. The initial work is investigating generic issues and suggestions for better ways of working together – with the ultimate aim of testing a new way of working for real (as part of the Felixstowe Peninsula Project).

The group held a number of meetings back in 2014/5 to move this forward. We are currently working with Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) planners to manage a real situation – the delivery of the Felixstowe Peninsula project. See the initial HWMP Planning & Consents Meeting Minutes. Further to this meeting, SCDC sought legal advice about whether the project could be permitted development. See the SCDC Planning Advice on HWMP. Due to the scale of the project, which at the time included the pipeline across some 18km plus several associated on-farm reservoirs, the in-combination effects were felt to merit a full planning application and associated archaeological investigation. This advice resulted in significant changes to costs and timings of the project and effectively made it unviable. Subsequently, the project has been scaled back – to some 8km of pipeline and no associated reservoirs and discussions are ongoing with planners and archaeology to see if permitted development would now be appropriate – as would be the case for a farmer installing similar pipework.

One key improvement to the process is the availability of archaeological advice re the risk of potential sites having high archaeological interest. Anyone wishing to access this information should contact archaeology@suffolk.gov.uk. It is hoped that landowners may seek advice even for on-farm piping activities, which are permitted development and do not require archaeological investigations. Minor re-routing of pipeline routes could assist in preserving significant archaeological features without additional cost to farmers.

Sub Group Lead:

Jane Burch, Suffolk County Council. Email jane.burch@suffolk.gov.uk