UK: Planning Act 244: Planning Act 2008 / Localism Bill Summary At 25 May 2011

Last Updated: 26 May 2011
Article by Angus Walker

This is entry number 244, published on 25 May 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.

Today's entry is an up-to-date summary of the regime for authorising major infrastructure projects introduced by the Planning Act 2008 and amended by the Localism Bill.

This is the eighth summary, which is updated and reissued every few months. For more detailed information, you can get hold of our free 16-page brochure on the Act - click click here to obtain one. For a complete picture of the new regime, Bircham Dyson Bell has written a book on it, published by Butterworths at the end of July 2009. Click this link for more details. A second edition is on the cards. For up-to-date links to all the relevant Planning Act documents, see this blog entry.

There are four new abbreviations to get used to when talking about the new regime, which neatly cover the four main new concepts it involves. The vast majority of tha Act is geared towards speeding up the authorisation of major infrastructure, mainly in England, some types in Wales and one type in Scotland. The remainder of the Act tweaks the existing planning system and also introduces the Community Infrastructure Levy, more on which later. The Localism Bill moves decision-making to the government, and makes some other minor changes to the regime.

National Policy Statements

The first abbreviation is 'NPS' – National Policy Statement. There are going to be 10 or 11 of these: the first seven were published in draft in November 2009; six of these were republished in October 2010 and one more was published in November 2010. The remaining three or four will be published over the next year or so. These will set out national policy on a particular area of national infrastructure in a single accessible document, and will state to a greater or lesser degree what infrastructure is needed over the next 15-20 years, and set out the impacts of the infrastructure that should be addressed by project promoters when making applications, and the Infrastructure Planning Commission when considering them.

The 10 or 11 NPSs proposed are to have the following titles (with links to the eight that have been published already and expected dates for those that have not): Overarching Energy (i.e. energy of all types, to sit above the other energy NPSs); Nuclear Power; Fossil Fuels; Renewable Energy; Electricity Networks; Gas and Oil Infrastructure; Ports; Waste Water; National Networks (in December 2011) (i.e. railways, motorways, trunk roads and rail freight interchanges); Hazardous waste (May 2011 - not looking too likely) and Water Supply (the one that may or may not be published).

Consultation on the eight already issued has closed; Parliament has reported on the energy NPSs (twice) and the Ports and Waste Water NPSs (once). The government still (i.e. after the interim Weightman report said that nuclear should still go ahead in the light of Fukushima) expects to lay the six energy NPSs before Parliament for approval in June 2011 (and approve them in July). Parliamentary approval is another innovation of the coalition government, to become a requirement (actually just the potential for Commons disapproval) via the Localism Bill.

The point of NPSs is to avoid debates about policy when applications are under consideration – nearly a quarter of the Heathrow Terminal 5 inquiry was taken up with debating whether it was needed, for example. Now, the commissioner will just be able to say 'It says it is needed in the Airports NPS – when that came out in draft, that was your chance to debate that issue. Next, please!'

Nationally significant infrastructure projects

The second abbreviation is 'NSIP' – Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. This should not be confused with NPS, and is being pronounced 'ensip', which helps to distinguish it. The regime only applies to NSIPs, and the Act sets out, for each type of project, how big it needs to be for it to become an NSIP.

The 16 NSIPs are: electricity generating projects of all types; overhead electric lines; underground gas storage; LNG facilities; gas reception facilities; gas pipelines; other pipelines; highways; airports; harbours; railways; rail freight interchanges; dams/reservoirs; water transfer facilities; waste water treatment plants and hazardous waste facilities.

For each type of project, the Act sets out a threshold above which it becomes an NSIP. For example, a new airport would be an NSIP if it is expected to be able to handle at least 10 million passengers per year, or 10,000 air cargo movements per year. Expansions of existing facilities can also be NSIPs - if an airport is to expand by those same amounts, it would be an NSIP. The brochure I mentioned gives the threshold for all the 16 types, and whether they must be in England, Wales or Scotland.

Since 1 March 2010, it has been compulsory for applications for the first 12 of the 16 types of NSIP listed above to use the new regime – indeed illegal to build an NSIP without having used it (although a project authorised by an Act of Parliament could override this). The new regime became compulsory for waste water NSIPs on 6 April 2011 and the last two (waste and water NSIPs) are expected to 'go live' in 2012.

It is generally forbidden for a project below the threshold to use it, although the government can decide that a below-threshold project, a project outside the descriptions in the Act (as long as it is an energy, transport, water, waste water or waste project) or a cluster of projects should be considered an NSIP. The coalition government has said it will do this in one case: the Thames Tunnel sewage project, but an actual decision cannot be taken until an application is made, expected next year.

The Localism Bill will make this easier - it will allow requests to be made to 'upgrade' projects in this way, before an application is made. On the other hand, the government has said that High Speed 2 will be authorised by a Bill in Parliament and will not use the Planning Act regime. It is not otherwise possible to 'downgrade' a project to fall outside the regime.

Infrastructure Planning Commission

The third abbreviation is 'IPC' – Infrastructure Planning Commission. This is the new but short-lived body that considers applications for NSIPs. The coalition government intends to replace it with a unit of the Planning Inspectorate in April 2012, but until then it will operate as intended. The full complement of 39 Commissioners has been appointed (although this now stands at 36).

One commissioner, or a panel of three or more, will consider the evidence on an application (depending on its complexity - the two applications to have had commissioners appointed both have a panel of three). If no NPS is in place, while the IPC is in existence, it will refer its recommendation to the Secretary of State for decision, which will take up to three more months.

The measures to replace the IPC and make other changes to the regime are contained in the Localism Bill, published in December 2010 and now awaiting its Second Reading in the Lords, having passed the Commons. It is expected to be enacted in November 2011 and the relevant parts to come into force on 1 April 2012. The authorisation regime remains unscathed, but the consideration of applications will transfer to a 'Major Infrastructure Planning Unit' (or possibly a National Infrastructure Directorate) of the Planning Inspectorate. In the meantime, and for just over a year, the IPC will continue to examine applications and make recommendations on them. Given the timing of the energy NPSs it may well decide the two applications it is currently considering, but will not decide any more.

The IPC maintains a log of advice it gives and projects it is expecting on its website. To date, it has received just three applications since they had to be made to it on 1 March 2010: it declined to consider the first, but accepted the second and third for examination, proposed energy from waste projects in Bedfordshire and Merthyr Tydfil respectively. 12 other projects have started their formal pre-application consultation, and a further 42 projects are expected.

Everything about the IPC is geared to speeding up the process. The IPC will have (fairly) fixed timescales to work to – around three months from the application being made to sort itself out procedurally, six months to consider evidence and three more months to make a decision or a recommendation. Oral examination is discouraged (although will probably still happen more often than not). Applicants will have to do a great deal of consultation before they even apply to the IPC, in an attempt to front-load the process and identify areas that could be changed before things get too entrenched and expensive.

When the IPC is replaced, the government intends to give itself a deadline to make decisions since this is often a cause of considerable delay - and the Localism Bill has set this as three months as for the existing regime when no NPS is in place.

Community Infrastructure Levy

The final abbreviation is 'CIL' or Community Infrastructure Levy. This is a separate innovation to the new regime for authorising NSIPs outlined above. It is designed to formalise a tariff system for developments (consisting of buildings) getting planning permission to contribute to the infrastructure burden that they will create. It is up to each local authority to decide whether to introduce it. The authority must have completed the first iteration of its local development framework, must then publish a 'charging schedule' for its CIL and hold an examination into it if there are any objections. Only then can it start to charge CIL. At least six local authorities have at least published a draft charging schedule - details can be found on the 'links' blog page mentioned above.

Income from CIL is ring-fenced and must be spent on 'infrastructure' - which for this purpose has a wider meaning than in the rest of the Act. The regulations introducing CIL are in force; the coalition government has decided to retain CIL and has published further regulations making minor amendments to the regime, plus a couple more in the Localism Bill.

Previous entry 243: Localism Bill gets through the Commons as NPPF proposed

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Angus Walker
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.