Wheelabrator Waste to Energy Facility, Harewood

National Strategic Infrastructure Projects

Following concerns over the length of time it was taking for certain major  development proposals to get through the planning system, the Planning Act 2008 introduced measures to streamline the decision making process for major infrastructure projects. The type of scheme that can be considered under this regime is limited to the following:

  • those relating to energy generation, transmission or storage
  • highway related development
  • airport related development
  • harbour facilities
  • railways
  • rail freight interchanges
  • transfer of water resources
  • waste water treatment plant
  • hazardous waste facilities


Procedurally, the most significant point to note in the determination of an NSIP is that the decision making role which the Local Planning Authority normally exercises with regard to all development proposal is taken away from them and now rests with the Secretary of State. This means that the role of the local planning authority is now that of an interested party and consultee. The final decision is made by the  Secretary of State. Under the Localism Act 2011 the Planning Inspectorate became the government agency responsible for operating the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The Planning Inspectorate assesses each project and makes recommendations to the Secretary of State. A successful decision comes in the form of what is referred to as a Development Consent Order.

Another aspect of the procedure is that the developer is required to do most of the work with regards to the project in the pre application stage. This means that any responses to consultation exercises should be directed towards the developer and not the local planning authority or the Planning Inspectorate. The responsibilities change when the proposal is formally submitted for examination at which time the Planning Inspectorate takes more of a lead role.