Having your say about a national infrastructure project

This guide is for individuals and organisations who want to have their say about a project.

National infrastructure projects are also called Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). They are large developments which cross the threshold from a normal planning application because of the impact they may have. This can be developments like:

  • offshore wind farms
  • power stations and electric lines
  • motorways and other major roads
  • railways
  • gas pipelines

The process for national infrastructure projects is to decide if a Development Consent Order (DCO) can be granted. A DCO is a legal document that allows a developer to build their proposed project. The developer submits an application for a proposed development to the Planning Inspectorate. A panel of independent inspectors examine the project and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State about if the project should go ahead.

As part of this process, anyone can have their say about the project and tell us why they think it should or should not go ahead.

  1. Step 1 Taking part at the Pre-application stage

    Pre-application is the first stage of the process. This is where the developer must consult with people and organisations. The developer must provide information about how you can submit your comments to them. It is important to get involved at this stage as you can influence the application before the developer sends it to the Planning Inspectorate.

    Taking part before the application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate

  2. Step 2 Registering to have your say about a national infrastructure project

    To get involved after the application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, you must register to have your say at the Pre-examination stage. Pre-examination is where we prepare for an Examination. We will identify an inspector or a panel of inspectors called the Examining Authority and make a plan for the Examination stage. Registration is open for at least 30 days. The Pre-examination stage takes about three months.

    How to register to have your say about a national infrastructure project

  3. Step 3 Get involved in the Preliminary Meeting

    In the months after the registration period closes, the Examining Authority will hold a Preliminary Meeting. This meeting is to discuss the main issues the Examining Authority will be examining, and the timetable for the Examination of the application.

    What you can do at the Preliminary Meeting

  4. Step 4 Have your say during the Examination of the application

    The Examination stage is where the Examining Authority asks questions, and the developer and anyone who has registered to have their say may get involved and comment on the proposed development at the deadlines in the Examination timetable. You can also attend any hearings that may take place during this stage. The Examination takes up to six months.

    Submitting comments during the Examination of the application

  5. Step 5 What you can do after the decision has been made

    Once a decision is made by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period where people can challenge the decision in the High Court. This is called a Judicial Review.

    What happens after a decision has been made