There are six stages of the development consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects otherwise known as NSIPs:
- Pre Application
- The Examination
- Recommendation and Decision
- Post Decision
The development consent regime is the process applicants must go through when seeking permission to construct an NSIP. NSIPs include generating stations such as wind farms and power stations, electricity line such as new power lines and pylons, transport projects such as the building of roads or railway lines, waste and water such as the construction of a reservoir or wastewater treatment plant, pipelines for example to carry natural gas between a power station and the national transmission network.
The primary legislation that underpins the development consent regime is the Planning Act 2008.
Pre Application stage
At the Pre-application stage the applicant is at the centre of the process and has full responsibility for developing the project. An applicant is likely to be a large developer, a government agency or possibly a local council. The development consent regime is a front-loaded process. This means the development proposal has to be fully scoped and refined before the submission of an application to the Planning Inspectorate. It is at this stage that the applicant must formally consult with all statutory bodies, local authorities, the local community and any affected persons.
If your land is subject to any Compulsory Acquisition you will be an Affected Person and will be notified by the applicant.
Once an application has been submitted there is very little scope for change.
Therefore, those who wish to influence any proposal should engage with the applicant at this stage when the applicant advertises its consultation. You will usually respond to the consultation via email, on the applicant’s website or at a consultation event.
This should be done by the deadline set in the publicity.
The applicant is required to take into account any relevant responses received during formal consultation. The Pre-application stage can take as much time as is needed and is driven by the applicant.
After the Pre-application stage comes the Acceptance stage.
It is at this point that the Planning Inspectorate moves to the heart of the process.
The Application is formally submitted by the applicant to the Planning Inspectorate.
We must decide within 28 days whether all relevant documentation has been submitted to enable the application to proceed.
If we refuse the application there is a six-week window for the applicant to raise a legal challenge. If we accept the application the process moves to the next stage. Depending upon the preference of the Applicant, the application documents will have either been published on the National Infrastructure Planning website on receipt of the application or directly following the decision to accept the application.
At the Pre-examination stage the applicant must publicise that the application has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate and include when and how parties can register to get involved in the Examination as Interested Parties.
The time period for registering is set by the applicant but must be no less than 28 days.
From within the Planning Inspectorate, an inspector, or panel of inspectors, will be appointed as the Examining Authority.
A Preliminary Meeting will then be held to discuss procedural issues and the timetable for Examination.
All Interested Parties will be notified of the date of the Preliminary Meeting.
After the close of the Preliminary Meeting, all parties will be notified of the Examination Timetable. The close of the Preliminary Meeting marks the end of the Pre-examination stage.
The Examination Stage
The Examination stage starts the day after the close of the Preliminary Meeting.
It is at this stage that the Examining Authority examines the application and the Examination must be completed within six months.
The Examination is primarily conducted through written representations; however, hearings can also be held.These will normally be conducted in an inquisitorial manner.
Each Interested Party is entitled to make oral representations about the application.
Recommendation and Decision
During this stage the Examining Authority has three months to write its recommendation and submit it to the relevant Secretary of State.
The relevant Secretary of State makes the final decision for all NSIPs. The Secretary of State has three months to make its decision whether or not to grant consent.
Post Decision stage
The final stage of the process is the Post Decision stage.
This provides a six-week window for the applicant, any of the Interested Parties, or indeed anyone else to legally challenge the Secretary of State’s decision.
You will find further information on our website: https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk which includes many helpful advice notes. Alternatively, you can contact customer services by telephone on 0303 444 5000 or by email [email protected] .