The government publishes its response to the consultation (which ran until 19/09/2023) relating to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) consenting process …

[UPDATE: For the subsequent legislation relating to this consultation, please view the following posts:
- This post for the legislation relating to infrastructure planning fees.
- This post for the legislation relating to infrastructure planning miscellaneous provisions.
- This post for the legislation relating to infrastructure planning examination procedure.]

The government has published the following response to the consultation titled "Consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) consenting process" (which ran for 8 weeks from 25/07/2023 until 19/09/2023):

Response document:

  • March 2024: Operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects consenting process - government response (link) (pdf print version of HTML webpage).

Notes:

  • The "Executive summary" section within the above response document includes the following information:
    - "Following the publication of the NSIP Reform Action Plan in February 2023, the government is bringing forward reforms to ensure the existing system can support our future infrastructure needs by making the NSIP consenting process better, faster, greener, fairer and more resilient by 2025. The key operational changes we consulted on are designed to make the system work more effectively for applicants, local authorities and communities. These changes fall broadly into three of the five reform areas as identified above which this consultation sought views on:
    >>> 1. Operational reform to support a faster consenting process.
    >>> 2. Recognising the role of local communities and strengthening engagement.
    >>> 3. System capability - building a more diverse and resilient resourcing model."
    .
    - "From spring 2024, the government wants all projects entering the pre-application stage of the Planning Act 2008 system, to go through the consenting process within the overall statutory timeframes, and many should be able to progress more quickly. To support this, we will bring forward several changes to the existing process that will lead to more effective pre-application discussions and, more flexible and proportionate examinations, thereby supporting faster decision making on applications for Development Consent Orders (DCO).".
    - "A new fast-track route to consent will be available for projects capable of meeting the new fast-track quality standard. These projects will be supported to achieve a non-statutory 12-month target timescale from acceptance to decision, including a shorter statutory maximum examination timescale.".
    - "All projects will have the opportunity to benefit from improved pre-application services and advice from the Planning Inspectorate. This will include a new enhanced pre-application service for the most complex projects or those seeking a faster examination through the new fast-track route to consent.".
    - "The aim of these reforms is to ensure that the system works as efficiently and effectively as possible, without compromising opportunities for those affected by DCO applications to engage in the process. Local communities will continue to have an important voice in the infrastructure consenting process and should play a vital role in ensuring the projects delivered are of the highest quality. The right to be heard is a fundamental principle of the examination process and this is contained in both the Aarhus and the Espoo Conventions (where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on the environment). The UK is a signatory to both Conventions and our reforms will continue to reflect our obligations.".

Other sources of information:

  • August 2021: National Infrastructure Planning Reform Programme - stakeholder survey (pdf print version of HTML webpage) (link).
    - Note: For more information about the above document, please view this post.
  • February 2023: Nationally Significant Infrastructure - action plan for reforms to the planning process (link) (pdf print version of HTML webpage).
    - Note: For more information about the above document, please view this post.
  • February 2023: Government press release - "Cross-government plan to speed up delivery of major infrastructure projects" (link).
  • July 2023: Government press release - "Planning changes to speed up delivery of vital infrastructure" (link).
  • July 2023: Consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) consenting process (link) (pdf print version of HTML webpage).
    - Note: For more information about the above document, please view this post.