Development Consent Orders for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects are granted by the Secretary of State as an alternative to needing planning permission from a local authority. Recent changes have removed onshore wind farms of over 50MW in size from this regime. Further changes are expected to be made by Government to the consenting process and to establish a National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory footing. This note provides further information about the consenting process and future changes.Jump to full report >>
The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new development consent process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). This was subsequently amended by the Localism Act 2011. NSIPs are usually large scale developments (relating to energy, transport, water, or waste) which require a type of consent known as “development consent”. An extension of the regime in 2013 now allows certain business and commercial projects to opt into this process. A Development Consent Order (DCO) automatically removes the need to obtain several separate consents, including planning permission and is designed to be a much quicker process than applying for these separately.
The DCO process starts when an application is formally accepted by the National Infrastructure Planning Unit and lasts approximately 12-15 months. The final decision on granting a DCO rests with the Secretary of State for that field, based on advice from planning inspectors – known as the “examining authority”. The National Infrastructure Planning website provides a number of guidance documents on the processes.
Applications for DCOs are decided in accordance with National Policy Statements (NPSs), which after a process of consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny are formally “designated” by Government. There are currently 12 designated or proposed NPSs, which fall under the categories of hazardous waste, water supply, energy, transport networks, aviation and ports.
The NSIP regime has been amended recently to reflect that:
Future changes expected include:
This note applies to England and in some circumstances to Wales (see section 1.2). See the joint Library briefing paper Comparison of the planning systems in the four UK countries: 2016 update for information about consenting regimes in the other UK countries.
Library briefing paper, Infrastructure Policy examines the current state of infrastructure in the UK, current levels of investment and recent Government policy.
Commons Briefing papers SN06881
Author: Louise Smith