(These are the 'headlines' - the full document is now available at the end of this post...)
"The Inspector has [today published] conclusions on the issue of whether the North London Councils have fulfilled the legal requirement of the Duty to Co-operate under S33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 Act in the preparation of the North London Waste Plan.
"The paper combines Mr Mead’s findings in the note issued on 25 June (paras 1- 20) with those issued today, 31 August (paras 21 - 37)."
North London Waste Plan Examination
The Duty to Co-operate
(i) The consideration of the legal requirement to co-operate in the preparation of the North London Waste Plan (NLWP) is in two stages. The first stage, in a note dated 25 June 2012 (paras 1 to 20 below), has dealt with the legal submissions that, in effect, the North London Councils (the Councils) were absolved of the duty to co-operate with the planning authorities to which waste was exported.
(ii) The second stage is to consider whether co-operation as envisaged by the 2004 Act and the NPPF has been carried out. My overall conclusions are at paras 34 to 37."
34. Accordingly, I conclude that the NLWP does not comply with the legal requirements of S33A of the 2004 Act (as amended) in that there has not been constructive, active and ongoing engagement during the NLWP’s preparation between the North London Councils and the planning authorities to which significant quantities of waste are exported.
35. In reaching my conclusion in this case, I have considered carefully all the representations and have also taken into account the potentially significant implications of my decision. However, I consider no alternative conclusion can be reached, especially as it is claimed that there has been no liaison between the (North London) Councils and Buckinghamshire County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, the Bedfordshire Councils, Essex County Council and Hertfordshire County Council, other than as described above. Therefore, contact has been scant.
36. The consequence of my conclusion is that the submitted NLWP is not legally compliant and so I cannot continue any further with the Examination. The Councils may choose to receive my report on the Plan which will not deal with any planning issues and, following Section 20(7B) of the 2004 Act as inserted by Section 112 of the Localism Act 2011, will recommend non adoption of the Plan.
37. Alternatively, the Councils may choose to withdraw the Plan from submission and so return to the stage of preparation (S33A(3)(a) of the 2004 Act). Were the Councils to follow this latter route they may seek to remedy any defects which have been identified. In my opinion, this would include a continuation of the inter-regional communications via the London RTAB, but also involving meeting the RTABs, or their equivalents, of other relevant regions. In addition, a dialogue should be initiated with those planning authorities where significant quantities of waste are imported from North London to be managed or disposed in order to establish the acceptability or not of those movements and, if necessary, explore the degree to which reasonable alternatives exist, aiming to achieve a positive outcome. A series of memoranda of understanding could be established with each of the planning authorities. This process, in turn, may lead to alterations to the Plan and the need to revisit the Sustainability Appraisal, but, in my opinion, it would constitute an appropriate level of co-operation and should enable the duty to co-operate to be fulfilled.
31 August 2012
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