1. Preparing for the examination stage
  2. Registering to have your say
  3. Preliminary meeting
  4. What happens next
  5. More detailed advice

Preparing for the examination stage

The pre-examination stage is where we prepare for an examination. The Examining Authority is made up of one or more inspectors who will plan for the examination stage.

This involves the Examining Authority making an initial assessment of the issues which will need to be discussed.

The Examining Authority will:

  • plan what happens during the examination
  • arrange any hearings
  • set draft deadlines for comments

Registering to have your say

You must register during the pre-examination stage to have your say.

The registration for each project will be open for at least 28 days to give you time to register. The deadline for registering will be in the applicant's advert, or you can check the project page of this website. You can do this by clicking the All projects link at the top of this page and searching for the project.

There is a separate guide with more information about the steps in the process for people or organisations who want to have their say about a national infrastructure project.

Preliminary meeting

The Examining Authority will hold a preliminary meeting at some point after the register to have your say period closes.

Several weeks before this meeting, the rule 6 letter is sent to everyone registered to have their say, official bodies and people whose land is directly affected. The rule 6 letter tells everyone when and where the meeting will be held. It will also include a draft timetable for the examination.

You cannot give your views about the proposed development at this meeting.

You can talk about:

  • anything that may affect your ability to attend hearings or meet deadlines, for example other local events happening at the same time or issues with travel or working patterns
  • if there are any suitable local places to hold any hearings that may be required
  • if there are any groups of people who need a different approach to be able to take part in the process
  • any other matters relating to the draft examination timetable

What happens next

We will publish the meeting notes and a recording on the project section of this website around a week after the preliminary meeting.

The rule 8 letter is sent to everyone who registered, as well as official bodies and people whose land is directly affected. This letter gives details of the examination including the finalised timetable with all deadlines for examination comments.

More detailed advice

You can find more detailed advice in our advice notes.

  1. Step 1 Pre-application

    This is where the applicant starts to create their application. The applicant is required to consult with people and organisations in the area. They must also create detailed documents about the impact the project could have on the environment.

    It is important to get involved at this stage to influence the application before the applicant sends it to the Planning Inspectorate.

    1. Find out what you can do at this stage and check our detailed guides.
  2. Step 2 Acceptance

    This is when the applicant sends us their application documents. We check if we can accept the application for examination. We have 28 days to make this decision.

    1. How the acceptance stage works and what happens next.
  3. Step 3 Pre-examination

    The Examining Authority is appointed and is made up of one or more inspectors. Anyone who wants to have their say needs to register at this stage.

    The applicant must publish that the application has been accepted by us. They include when and how parties can register to get involved. The time period for registering is set by the applicant but must be no less than 28 days.

    The pre-examination stage usually takes about 3 months.

    1. What happens during the pre-examination stage.
  4. Step 4 Examination

    The Examining Authority will ask questions about the proposed development. The applicant and anyone who has registered to have their say can get involved and submit comments at each deadline in the timetable. You can also attend hearings that may take place. This stage takes up to 6 months.

    1. What happens at the examination stage?
  5. Step 5 Recommendation

    The Examining Authority writes its recommendation report. This must be completed and sent to the relevant Secretary of State within 3 months of the end of examination stage.

    1. Making a recommendation.
  6. Step 6 Decision

    The decision stage is when the relevant Secretary of State then reviews the report and makes the final decision. They have 3 months to make a decision.

    1. Who makes the final decision.
  7. Step 7 What happens after the decision is made

    Once the Secretary of State has made a decision, there is a 6 week period where people can challenge the decision in the high court. This is called a judicial review.

    1. What you can do after the decision has been made.