Senior Account Manager, Tom Warren, attended the second day of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) Forum 2020, which focused on completing pre-application, examination and progressing towards NSIP delivery.

These were our five key takeaways:

  • As DCO projects get larger, there is more information for both the developer and the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to digest within the tight timescales of examination. This highlights an increasing need to communicate complex information simply and creatively in order to save time and drive efficiency, such as opting to use more explanatory diagrams instead of bulk text.
  • Leaning on specialist advice from contractors early on in the process can provide clarity on how projects will be built, and minimises the risk of needing to change the scheme during construction. Developers can therefore create more robust construction methodologies and responses to stakeholder concerns over the potential impacts.
  • Working collaboratively with stakeholders during construction is key to the success of delivery. Setting up scope of works meetings, community liaison groups, specific topic group meetings etc. are all crucial to ensure stakeholders are suitably informed and can plan for the impacts of construction. This also helps to manage the reputation of the developer by demonstrating they are willing to listen to local concerns and manage disruption caused by construction work.
  • There is a shared feeling that nationally significant projects cannot continue to be delayed by government. Prior to the A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross scheme securing consent yesterday (6 February 2020), the previous six DCO decisions were all delayed by the relevant Secretary of State. While these delays can be partly attributed to the General Election, they highlight that the DCO process may need tweaking, with some calls for government to have its own deadlines to make a decision. Others in the industry are more relaxed that decisions after 11 March 2020 should be largely unaffected and that the current hold-ups will subside.
  • PINS’ advice for developers is keep an eye on the latest National Policy Statements (NPS) and most up-to-date guidance to ensure projects are compliant with latest standards, particularly in the changing environmental climate.

For more on the NSIP Forum 2020, read our blog from Day 1.