Our Account Manager Lucia Maclachlan attended the first day of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) Forum 2020, with a focus on presenting a practical guide to completing pre-application and creating an application.

Here are her five key takeaways:

  • Communications and narrative affect how stakeholders respond to a project. Whilst fundamental to success, ongoing and regular engagement also needs to be carefully thought through, to ensure the right message is being communicated.
  • The roles and responsibilities of Local Authorities is only set to increase. Barton Willmore accurately posed that “local authorities are at the heart of the effectiveness of the Development Consent Order (DCO) process.” 65% of UK councils have declared a climate emergency, therefore government and site promoters alike will be seeking their expertise for all future projects.
  • Given the context of the UK’s target of net zero, and the deadline for this ever decreasing, there is an urgent need for Energy National Policy Statements (NPS) to be revised to ensure that the country’s ambitions are carefully considered.
  • As net gain remains a top item on the agenda moving forward, developers, consultancies and site promoters can expect to be put under significant scrutiny with regards to reaching net gain on all projects. To follow the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA), there is a national ambition for reaching net gain to become a statutory requirement within any NSIP.
  • The Planning Inspectorate continues to set high expectations for site promoters, emphasising the importance of effectively engaging with all stakeholders prior to submission to ensure that there are minimal relevant representations at examination, which can cause significant delays.

All of which follows the National Infrastructure Commission launching the UK’s first National Infrastructure design principles; climate, people, places and value. With an ambition to include reaching net gain in NSIP legislation, and the seemingly inseparable DCO process from that of wider political, economic and social factors, it’s set to be an interesting year for projects of any scale.