The PPC regime opened for business in England and Wales in August 2000, and since then there have been some 670 permit applications. Under the PPC regulations the Agency is required to determine applications within four months unless a longer period is agreed with the applicant or work on the decision is suspended while further information is sought from the applicant.
The average time taken to determine applications has been increasing inexorably, and passed 12 months for the first time this year (see table). The backlog of applications has increased from 268 at the end of last year to 310 in mid-October.
Mrs Beckett commented that there has been a "slight increase" in decision times this year - actually one of over 20% - and added that "applications have often lacked necessary information which can create substantial delays." The Agency is attempting to improve its decision times by setting up "strategic permitting groups" (ENDS Report 342, pp 9-10 ).