Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

We work with local authorities hosting Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects or engaging in the Development Consent Order process, supporting local planners in their role and helping to ensure that best practice is shared.

Bicker Fen Pylon

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) are dealt with under the Planning Act 2008 and were introduced to streamline the consenting process for big infrastructure schemes as well as make it fairer and faster for local communities and applicants. Thresholds for NSIPs are defined under Sections 15-30A of the Act, but are generally larger scale infrastructure projects, developments of national importance in terms energy, transport, water, waste water, and waste. 

Instead of applying to a local authority for planning permission, NSIP developers apply to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for a Development Consent Order (DCO). PINS is responsible for operating the planning process which includes examining an application and writing a report with recommendations to the relevant Secretary of State who then makes a decision on whether or not to grant consent. The national infrastructure planning website sets out the process for DCOs and the role of PINS, as well as a searchable database of all NSIP applications.

Local authorities hosting NSIPs are statutory consultees in the DCO process and have a number of critical roles to play at each stage of the work. Advice Note Two from PINs sets out the formal local authority roles in detail. A very helpful and user friendly reference guide to NSIPs for local authorities has also been created by Suffolk County Council which covers every aspect of the DCO process and how local authorities can engage to greatest effect. 

Local Authority NSIP Network

The local authority NSIP network enables local planners and other council officers to discuss emerging topics, share experience and learn about best practice in the sector. Led by PAS, the network is supported by DLUHC and works with Government to help ensure that NSIP reforms are informed by local experience. As well as online meetings, network members can access case studies, briefings, templates and other resources. Recent meetings have looked at issues like cost recovery and planning performance agreements, community engagement and securing benefits for communities.

If you would like to join the network, either because your council is already handling an NSIP project or because you are expecting one in the future, contact  [email protected]  for details.