Planning for Major Infrastructure Projects

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The Planning Act 2008 and Localism Act 2011 lay out the processes for making decisions on the development of major, or 'nationally significant' infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new process for decision-making on NSIPs for energy, transport, water and waste. It introduced a new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission, to have responsibility for making decisions on planning applications for NSIPs. The Localism Act 2011 abolished the Infrastructure Planning Commission, but has retained most of the procedures for how the decisions will be consulted on and made. The main difference is that now the Major Infrastructure Planning Unit, which sits within the Planning Inspectorate, will administer applications before advising the relevant Minister. The Minister will then make the final decision on whether the project should go ahead or not.

he National Infrastructure Plan 2013 introduced the "top 40 priority investment" designation. This designation would mean that infrastructure projects, that would not otherwise meet the 2008 Act threshold to be classed as a NSIP would be able to use the development consent process. This will particularly be the case for developments related to science and innovation. Further information about the top 40 investments are set out in the National Infrastructure Plan 2013.

The following pages set out information on how decision-making on NSIPs works:

  • National Policy Statements (NPS) on nationally significant infrastructure: the types of 'infrastructure' that NPSs will relate to and when specific NPSs are expected to be published.
  • Planning procedures for individual nationally significant infrastructure projects: the role of the Planning Inspectorate and the procedures (particularly inquiries) it works to.