The following information is taken from the Planning Inspectorate’s website:-


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 National Infrastructure Planning Process

Short film explaining the process



The process begins when the Planning Inspectorate is informed by Highways England (HE) that they intend to submit an application to us in the future. Before submitting an application, HE is required to carry out extensive consultation on their proposals. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on the project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity. Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it or believe it could be improved.


The acceptance stage begins when HE submits a formal application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate. There follows a period of up to 28 days (excluding the date of receipt of the application) for the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide whether or not the application meets the standards required to be formally accepted for examination.


At this stage, the public will be able to register with the Planning Inspectorate and provide a summary of their views of the application in writing. At pre-examination stage, everyone who has registered and made a relevant representation will be invited to attend a preliminary meeting run and chaired by an Inspector. This stage of the process takes approximately 3 months from the developer’s formal notification and publicity of an accepted application.


The Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out the examination. During this stage, people who have registered to have their say, are invited to provide more details of their views in writing. Careful consideration is given by the Examining Authority to all the important and relevant matters, including the representations of all interested parties, any evidence submitted and answers provided to questions set out in writing and explained at hearings.


​The Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report on the application to the relevant Secretary of State, including a recommendation, within 3 months of the six month examination period. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

Post decision

Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

Further Guidance

More information on the Planning Process can be found on the CPRE’s website here:-