Video transcript: The role of local authorities in the process video

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This video explains the role of the local authorities in the development consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects otherwise known as NSIPs.

The development consent regime is the process developers must go through when seeking permission to construct an NSIP.

Your authority will play a vital role in the examination of these schemes.

Although local authorities do not decide whether or not such schemes go ahead, the evidence and opinion of your authority helps shape them.

This information is considered carefully by an inspector, or panel of inspectors, appointed within the Planning Inspectorate to consider the application and make a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State.

The six stages of an NSIP application:

  • Pre Application
  • Acceptance
  • Pre-examination
  • The Examination
  • Recommendation and Decision
  • Post Decision

Pre Application stage

At this stage, the Planning Inspectorate will consult your authority on the applicant’s Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report.

We will write to you and you will have 28 days to comment.

If the proposal is situated within your authority’s boundaries, you will be consulted by the applicant about the Statement of Community Consultation otherwise known as a SoCC.

The SoCC sets out how the applicant proposes to consult the community.

This is a key opportunity for your authority to advise the applicant, using your local knowledge, as for how the consultation should be conducted.

It is also at this stage that the applicant will carry out statutory consultation with your authority, statutory bodies, Affected Persons and the local community about the scheme itself.

It is important that all your delegated responsibilities are put in place far in advance of the submission.

The applicant is required to take into account any relevant responses received during its statutory consultation.

Acceptance Stage

When an application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, we must decide within 28 days whether all the relevant documentation has been submitted to enable the application to proceed.

As part of this, we will ask local authorities to provide a statement on the adequacy of the applicant’s consultation, usually within 14 days of the receipt of the application.

We always try to give you two weeks’ advance warning to allow you to submit this statement on time.

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.

Pre-examination stage

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.

If you are a host authority, you are automatically registered as an Interested Party.

If you are a neighbouring authority however, you must register as an Interested Party if you wish to take part in the Examination.

Both host and neighbouring authorities should submit a Relevant Representation via our website so we can assess the initial issues relevant to the scheme.

It also helps us ensure we have your current contact details.

The time period for registering is set by the applicant but must be no less than 30 days for EIA development.

A Preliminary Meeting will then be held to discuss procedural issues and a timetable for examination.

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.

As part of the examination process, the Examining Authority will invite your authority to submit a Local Impact Report.

Your authority may wish to use the Pre-application period, stage one of the process, to begin work on the Local Impact Report as a deadline for its receipt will be set early in the Examination.

This report should objectively assess the potential impacts of the scheme and provide evidence about the characteristics of the area.

During the Examination all Interested Parties, including your authority, will be invited to submit Written Representations, respond to the Examining Authority’s questions and comment on other submissions.

You will also be invited to hearings and site visits.

You may use your Written Representation to express your authority’s views on the application.

You are encouraged to work with the applicant and statutory bodies to produce Statements of Common Ground to set out areas of agreement between your authority, the applicant and others.

We will not accept submissions after the close of the Examination stage.

Recommendation and Decision Stage

During this stage, the Examining Authority has three months to write its recommendation 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 a 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, local authorities or indeed anyone else to legally challenge the Secretary of State’s decision.

In summary, your authority has a vital role to play in the development consent regime process.

You are encouraged to engage with the applicant, as well as the Planning Inspectorate, at the key points throughout the process.

You will find further information on our website including many helpful advice notes.

Advice notes one, three, seven, eight and fourteen may be of particular interest to you.

Alternatively, you can contact customer services by telephone on 0303 444 5000 or by email at [email protected]