What is an NSIP?
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) are major developments which require planning permission to be granted by the relevant Secretary of State through a Development Consent Order (DCO). This is a process established by the Planning Act 2008.
Unlike local planning permissions, which are considered by local authorities, DCO applications are made to the Planning Inspectorate. This administers the application process on behalf of the Secretary of State.
In the case of the Sunnica Energy Farm, the relevant Government department is the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Why is this project an NSIP?
The proposed Sunnica Energy Farm qualifies as an NSIP because it is proposed to have the capacity to generate more than 50MW of electricity.
What can local people expect to happen as a result?
We are required by the Planning Act 2008 to consult with the local community, as well as local authorities, regulatory bodies and service providers. We expect to carry out this consultation across 2019. We also need to carry out detailed technical and environmental assessments of our proposals and to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment which will be reported in an Environmental Statement that will accompany our DCO application.
We envisage two rounds of public consultation taking place. Once we’ve conducted our consultation and developed our proposals to an appropriate level of detail, we will submit a DCO application to the Secretary of State via the Planning Inspectorate. Should the Secretary of State accept the application, the Secretary of State will conduct an examination in public to a fixed timeline set by the Planning Act 2008. This will inform the Secretary of State’s decision on the application.
As part of our application, we will be required to show how we have considered feedback from the consultation.
How long will it take?
While the DCO determination process has fixed timescales, we are determined to spend the necessary time to prepare a robust and quality application prior to its submission. The timeline below shows when we expect different stages of the process to take place at this stage.
Where can I find out more?
You can find out more about NSIPs at the Planning Inspectorate’s website.