Consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP)
August 3, 2023
Consultation on operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) consenting process
This is a call for interest and engagement in leading and taking active part in NIPA working groups to consider and prepare NIPA’s consultation response.
The consultation was launched and opened on 25 July 2023 and will close at 11:59pm on 19 September 2023, so a lot to do over the holiday period!
We propose to set up three working groups to consider and focus on NIPA’s response to the three reform areas:
In February 2023, the government published the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Reform Action Plan setting out the reforms proposed by government seeking to ensure the system can support our future infrastructure needs. These reforms are intended to deliver on the commitments first announced as part of Project Speed in the National Infrastructure Strategy (2020) and developed through the British Energy Security Strategy (2022) and the Powering Up Britain (2023) policy papers.
- Bringing forward operational reforms to support faster consenting with an emphasis on delivering proportionate examinations for all projects, strengthening pre-application section 51 advice and introducing a fast-track consenting timeframe for projects that meet the proposed fast track quality standard.
- Recognising the role of local authorities and strengthening community engagement with Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, with greater support and measures to embed community input and benefits much earlier in the process.
- Improving system-wide capacity and capability, including through developing skills and training and extending proportionate cost recovery by The Planning Inspectorate and key statutory consultees to support effective preparation and examination of Development Consent Order applications and build resilience into the system.
This consultation sets out the proposed reforms to the operation of the NSIP system through the Planning Act 2008 consenting process and outlines how government intend to bring these measures forward through secondary legislation and Guidance changes over the coming months. This includes measures to:
‒ resourcing The Planning Inspectorate and updating existing fees;
- strengthen the role of pre-application and ensure consultation is effective and proportionate;
- support faster and more proportionate examinations;
- establish a fast-track route to consent;
- review the process for post consent changes to a Development Consent Order; and
- ensure the system is adequately resourced through:
‒ strengthening the performance of government’s expert bodies;
‒ improved engagement with local authorities and communities; and
‒ building the skills needed to support infrastructure delivery.
The measures set out in the consultation build on the powers already being taken forward through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. This includes powers to enable the Secretary of State to set shorter statutory timeframes for examination, as well as the ability for the Secretary of State to make provision by regulations for the decision-making on non-material change applications. The measures also include a power to introduce, through regulations, provision for cost recovery for prescribed statutory consultees providing services in connection with Development Consent Order applications.
The consultation focuses on operational reforms to the NSIP consenting process and does not cover strategic aspects of the NSIP reform programme, such as updating the existing National Policy Statements, proposals for Biodiversity and Marine Net Gain and changes to environmental assessment, which are being progressed separately.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has made a number of recommendations for government to consider on the infrastructure planning system and the role of National Policy Statements. These recommendations build on the reforms that were set out in the NSIP Reform Action Plan and are being progressed, in part, through the consultation. The government is considering the NIC’s recommendations separately and will respond on those in due course.
Please respond with your interest in contributing to email@example.com
We also propose a NIPA Matters event (date TBA) to bring as many informed thoughts, experience and discussion points together as possible. This will be a virtual event with introduction to the consultation proposals from DLUHC and then discussion from members that will also inform the NIPA response.