The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is seeking views on the nationally significant infrastructure planning (NSIP) process.

The intention of the consultation is to hear from all those who engage in the NSIP process on what they view as the main issues affecting the current  regime, including any suggestions on how to make the process more efficient.

Responses are welcomed from consultants and developers affected by the regime, as well as local planning authorities, statutory consultees and all others affected and their lawyers.

Scope of this consultation

The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of the entire NSIP process and all its interactions. The main areas it seeks suggestions on are as follows:

  • Government bodies accelerating NSIP applications
  • Enhancing the examination and decision-making process
  • Considering the impediments to physically implementing NSIP projects
  • Digital improvements to the regime
  • Cross-government co-ordination and interactions with other consenting and regulatory processes
  • Potential capability limits of applicants or others to the NSIP regime

Key questions

There are 8 questions directly related to the scope as set out above and each question requires a maximum 300 word response. These are: 

  • What could government, its arms-length bodies and other statutory bodies do to accelerate the speed at which NSIP applications can be prepared and more generally to enhance the quality of submissions?
  • Following submission, are there any aspects of the examination and decision process which might be enhanced, and how might these be improved?
  • Where a development consent order has been made, what impediments are there to physically implementing a project which could be removed?
  • How might digitalisation support the wider improvements to the regime, for example are there any specific aspects that you feel could benefit from digital enhancements?
  • What issues are affecting current NSIPs that would benefit from enhanced cross-government co-ordination including government departments and arms-length bodies?
  • Does the NSIP regime successfully interact with other consenting and regulatory processes and the wider context within which infrastructure projects operate?
  • Are there areas where limits in the capacity or capability of NSIP applicants, interested parties and other participants are resulting in either delays or adversely affecting outcomes?
  • Is there anything else you think we should be investigating or considering as part of our end-to-end operational review of the NSIP process?

The questions provide an opportunity to express to the Government what they could be doing to prevent delays and improve the quality of NSIP applications and responses for larger projects across England and Wales.

Certain aspects of the regime may benefit from digitalisation and now is the perfect time to implement change as part of a green recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is a final catch all question to ensure that the consultation takes into consideration all concerns that are being experienced by the current regime.

The implications: our view

This consultation has been flagged for some months.  New entrants, particularly in renewable energy projects, have concerns about accessing the DCO process partly due to cost and partly due to the timescale for achieving a DCO.  As a result, a review of the process is welcome.  However, any changes must be robust such that the recent successful legal challenges to DCOs become less of a risk to developers as they commit to a process that they may not be familiar with.  In addition the delays that are inherent in any system that relies on the final decision being made by the relevant Secretary of State need to be removed. 

How to respond

The best way to respond is by completing the online survey (link) which includes all the relevant questions.

Alternatively, you can email your response to or provide a response in writing to them.

The consultation applies only to England and Wales and will close on 17 December 2021.

Follow the link for more information.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at August 2021. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

Written by

Katherine Evans

Katherine Evans

Date published

13 August 2021


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