NuGen Properties

Infra planning and development consent system come under scrutiny

Offshore wind projects can take up to four years to get through the DCO process

The National Infrastructure Commission has been tasked with a review of the current approach to national policy statements (NPSs) and development consent orders (DCOs).

It has been directed to “identify how the planning system could create greater certainty for infrastructure investors, developers and local communities”.

The commission is expected to report in the spring, as the government prepares to publish an action plan on nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

The commission will review whether the current process of reviewing NPSs every five years is proving effective, and how the strategic statements could provide more confidence in likely planning system outcomes.

The current planning framework for NSIPs was introduced in the Planning Act 2008, with the Planning Inspectorate now responsible for the administration of NSIP applications on behalf of the secretary of state, who then makes the final decision on whether to grant or refuse the application. The government document notes that the regime initially helped speed up consenting, but that “the system has slowed in recent years, with the timespan for granting DCOs increasing by 65% between 2012 and 2021”. Offshore wind projects can take up to four years to get through the DCO process.

The study will look only at big infrastructure planning; housing and commercial construction  are outside the National Infrastructure Commission’s remit, and recommendations will only cover England due to the devolved nature of planning.

The review is part of a wider review of the planning system by the government. Last week we reported that the Law Commission had launched a review of the legislation governing compulsory purchase. [See our previous report here.]

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