What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

A Development Consent Order (DCO) is a means of obtaining permission for developments categorized as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). DCOs are required for projects in the fields of energy, transport, water, and waste.

Introduced by the Planning Act in 2008, DCOs were designed to simplify and expedite the planning permission process for certain types of projects. The process was initially overseen by the Infrastructure Planning Commission but has since been transferred to the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has extended the scope of NSIPs to include developments such as stadia, conference centers, offices, warehousing, manufacturing, and research facilities, among others. While size is not the determining factor, the Secretary of State typically expects projects to be of a substantial size. The Government has also announced reforms to the planning process for NSIPs.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Development Consent Order (DCO) is a permission for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).
  • DCOs streamline and expedite the planning permission process for specific types of projects.
  • DCOs are overseen by the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State.
  • NSIPs now include a wider range of developments beyond energy, transport, water, and waste.
  • The Government has introduced reforms to the planning process for NSIPs.

The Development Consent Order Process

The Development Consent Order (DCO) process consists of six key stages: pre-application, acceptance, pre-examination, examination, decision, and post-decision. Each stage plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of the DCO application and ensuring a fair and transparent process.

During the pre-application stage, the applicant develops their scheme and engages in consultations with relevant stakeholders. This stage is essential for gathering feedback, addressing concerns, and refining the project proposal. It is also an opportunity to generate support and build relationships with local authorities, statutory consultees, and the local community.

Once the application is submitted, it undergoes an acceptance process where the Planning Inspectorate assesses its viability. This stage ensures that the application meets the necessary requirements and provides the applicant with an initial indication of its potential success.

If accepted, an Examining Inspector is appointed, and the application is advertised and made available for public examination. During the examination stage, interested parties can participate by submitting written representations and requesting to speak at hearings.

This stage allows for additional details to be presented, concerns to be addressed, and different perspectives to be heard. The Examining Authority then prepares a report with a recommendation for the relevant Secretary of State, who ultimately makes the decision on granting or refusing development consent.

Following the decision, there is a six-week period for potential challenges to be made in the High Court. Overall, the DCO process is designed to promote transparency, engagement, and accountability in the decision-making process for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Consultation and Engagement in the DCO Process

Effective consultation and engagement are integral parts of the Development Consent Order (DCO) process, ensuring that all relevant stakeholders have the opportunity to contribute their opinions and concerns. DCO consultation involves engaging with various parties, including local authorities, statutory consultees, interested parties, and the wider public.

Local authorities play a crucial role in the DCO process, providing their input and expertise in assessing the adequacy of the pre-application consultation carried out by the applicant. Their opinion on the consultation’s quality is a key factor in determining whether the application can proceed to the next stage.

Statutory consultees, such as government agencies and environmental bodies, are also consulted during the DCO process. Their involvement ensures that the potential impacts of the proposed development on a wide range of areas, such as the environment, heritage, and local infrastructure, are thoroughly assessed.

Furthermore, interested parties and the public have opportunities to engage with the DCO process. Individuals and organizations can register as interested parties, granting them certain rights, including submitting written representations and requesting to participate in hearings during the examination stage. This public engagement ensures that the views and concerns of those affected by the proposed development are taken into account.

Stakeholder Role
Local Authorities Provide opinion on pre-application consultation
Statutory Consultees Assess potential impacts in specific areas
Interested Parties Submit written representations and request participation in hearings

“Effective consultation is key to ensuring that the DCO process is transparent and inclusive. By involving local authorities, statutory consultees, interested parties, and the public, we can address concerns, gather valuable insights, and make informed decisions that balance the needs of development with the interests of the community.”

Through consultation and engagement, the DCO process aims to strike a balance between the efficient delivery of nationally significant infrastructure projects and the consideration of local perspectives. It allows for transparent decision-making and provides an opportunity for those affected by the proposed development to contribute to the decision-making process.

Public Participation in DCO Consultation

Public participation in the DCO consultation is a vital component of the process. It ensures that the concerns and opinions of the local community are taken into consideration when making decisions regarding nationally significant infrastructure projects.

During the examination stage, interested parties, including members of the public and community groups, can register to become involved in the process. This gives them the opportunity to submit written representations and request to speak at the hearings. By actively participating, the public can express their views, provide additional information, and engage with decision-makers.

Public engagement in DCO consultation promotes transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in the planning and development of infrastructure projects. It allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the potential impacts and benefits of the proposed development, ensuring that decisions are made with the best interests of the community in mind.

Benefits and Implications of Development Consent Orders

Development Consent Orders (DCOs) offer a range of benefits for both applicants and the government. One of the key advantages is the streamlined process they provide. By combining multiple consents into a single DCO, the planning permission process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) becomes much more efficient.

This not only saves time but also valuable resources, ensuring a more cost-effective approach. The concept of a single consent under the DCO system simplifies the process for all parties involved. By obtaining one comprehensive permission, developers can move forward with their projects without the need to navigate through multiple planning processes.

This clarity and efficiency reduce uncertainty and provide a relatively speedy decision, benefiting both the applicant and those affected by the proposals. Furthermore, DCOs can create significant development opportunities.

By granting the necessary consents and powers, these orders facilitate the realization of large-scale projects in sectors such as energy, transport, water, waste, and more. This opens doors for innovation and economic growth, allowing the development of critical infrastructure that supports communities, industries, and the country as a whole.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that DCOs can have implications for landowners and adjacent properties. While they can present potential development opportunities, they may also introduce adverse impacts on the surrounding area.

It is crucial for all stakeholders to carefully consider the consequences and engage in meaningful consultation throughout the DCO process to ensure the best outcomes for all parties involved.

 

FAQ

What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

A Development Consent Order (DCO) is a means of obtaining permission for developments categorized as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). DCOs are required for projects in the fields of energy, transport, water, waste, and more. Introduced in 2008, DCOs simplify and expedite the planning permission process for certain types of projects.

What is the DCO process?

The DCO process consists of six stages: pre-application, acceptance, pre-examination, examination, decision, and post-decision. These stages involve developing the scheme, consulting relevant stakeholders, submitting the application, public examination, and decision-making by the relevant Secretary of State.

How does consultation and engagement work in the DCO process?

The DCO process emphasizes consultation and engagement with various stakeholders. The applicant must consult local authorities, statutory consultees, and the local community. The public, including interest groups, can register as interested parties, submit written representations, and request to speak at hearings during the examination stage.

What are the benefits and implications of Development Consent Orders?

Development Consent Orders streamline the planning permission process for NSIPs by combining multiple consents into a single DCO. This saves time and resources for both applicants and the government.

DCOs also reduce uncertainty for those affected by proposals and open the door for development opportunities. However, DCOs can have implications for adjacent properties and landowners.

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