Decisions on Major Infrastructure Projects

Making Decisions on Major Infrastructure Projects

The Planning Act 2008 and Localism Act 2011 have introduced a new procedure for making decisions on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The main features are:

  • applications for NSIPs will be examined by the Planning Inspectorate. The Inspectorate will then make recommendations to the relevant Minister (for example for Secretary of State for Transport for an application for a new airport), who will make the final decision on whether the project should go ahead or not;
  • the Planning Inspectorate examines applications in line with procedures which emphasise the use of written representations, and seek to minimise the need for issues to be examined through cross-examination at public inquiries; and
  • applications for NSIPs will be for a 'development consent order', which will combine a grant of planning permission with a range of other separate consents, such as listed building consent.

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)

The Planning Act 2008 introduced the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), a body which would examine and make decisions on applications for NSIPs. The IPC was abolished by the Localism Act 2011, in response to concerns that it was not a democratic way of making development decisions. As explained above, applications are now examined by the Planning Inspectorate, and final decisions taken by the relevant Minister.