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What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (“NSIPs”) are major infrastructure developments in England & Wales These include projects such as power plants, large renewable energy projects, new airports, airport extensions and major road projects.

A Development Consent Order (“DCO”) application for consent to undertake a NSIP is made to the Planning Inspectorate who will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will decide on whether development consent should be granted for the proposed scheme.

The NSIP process comprises six key stages, covering:

  1. Pre-application
  2. Acceptance
  3. Pre-examination
  4. Examination
  5. Decision
  6. Post-decision stages.

Upon receipt of an application for development consent, the Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether or not to accept it.

There is a period of 6 months for the Planning Inspectorate to examine an application and 3 months for the Planning Inspectorate to make its recommendation to the Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State has a further period of 3 months in which to issue a decision.

From accepting an application to making a decision, the whole process should last in the region of 15 months. Previously, the average time taken for major applications in planning was around 2 years.

If you need support and Development Consent Order expertise in particular, contact our senior Project Manager Barrie Arthur below.