The Department for Local Communities and Government has issued its response on streamlining the consenting process for nationally significant infrastructure planning; this was consulted on as part of 2014’s Technical Consultation on Planning. 

As a result of the consultation, the Government intends to further streamline the nationally significant infrastructure regime. The Government intends to do this by enabling non-planning consents, notifications, and licences to be included in a Development Consent Order (“DCO”) without first requiring the agreement of the relevant consenting bodies. The consents identified for streamlining in the recent consultation concern European protected species, flood defence, waste water discharge, trade effluent, water abstraction and impoundment. 

Section 150 of the Planning Act 2008 currently provides that a DCO may include a provision which removes a requirement for a prescribed consent or authorisation to be granted only if the relevant body has consented to that provision. The Government has again rejected calls for Section 150 of the Planning Act 2008 to be repealed in its entirety, instead preferring to streamline consents. 

Work to remove three non-planning consents from the remit of section 150 of the Planning Act 2008 will be taken forward within this Parliament. The three consents are: consents under section 164 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (discharges for works purposes); consents under section 166 of the Water Industry Act 1991 (discharges for works purposes); and consents under chapter 3, Part 4 of Water Industry Act 1991 (trade effluent consents). Work to streamline these consents within the DCO regime will be taken forward in this Parliament. 

The Government will takes steps to remove a further non-planning consent, European Protected Species licenses under regulation 53 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, from the remit of section 150 of the Planning Act 2008 in the next Parliament. 

The Government will take forward work to streamline a further six consents between 2015 and 2017 while consolidating consents within the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. These consents are: consents under section 109 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (structures in, over or under a main river); consents under section 23 of the Land Drainage Act 1991 (works that affect the flow of ordinary watercourses); consents under byelaws of the Water Resources Act 1991 (for works affecting sea defences/land drainage on main rivers, washlands and floodplains); licences under section 24 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (restrictions on abstraction); licences under section 25 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (restrictions on impounding); and consents under section 32 of the Water Resources Act 1991 (rights to abstract). 

It is expected that the legislative amendments required to give effect to the amendments will provide the developer with the choice as to whether they include such non-planning consents within their DCO, as opposed to making the changes compulsory. In some cases, for instance with trade effluent consent, it is also expected that amendments may allow a DCO to include provision relating to the operational stage of development, as well as the construction stage. Further information will be announced in due course. 

Further streamlining of the DCO regime forms part of the Government’s wider goal to improve the efficiency and speed of the planning process, particularly regarding the delivery of nationally significant infrastructure. The Government sees this as important in driving economic growth. 

The proposals will only apply to England. 

The consultation response can be found here