The Planning Process

Find out more about how offshore energy developments are consented and how the planning process works in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Any developer wishing to construct a nationally significant infrastructure project, such as wind farms, wave and tidal energy arrays, must first apply for consent to do so.

How does the planning process work?

In order to build a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) in the marine environment, a developer must submit an application for development consent together with full supporting documentation covering every aspect of the development - this includes navigational safety, recreational amenity, environmental concerns and must contain evidence that the developer has consulted fully with the local community and has taken their views into account.

The planning authority, which differs in the devolved administrations, then considers the application to ensure that it is complete, meets the expected standards and that all elements have been completed rigorously before formally accepting it for examination.

They then examine the application before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State, who will then decide on whether to grant or to refuse development consent.

Who is the Planning Authority?

In England and Wales The Planning Inspectorate is the planning authority.

In Northern Ireland the Department of the Environment is the responsible authority for offshore renewable energy infrastructure projects.

In Scotland the Scottish Government is the authority overseeing applications for wind, wave and tidal projects.

How can I influence a proposal?

Pre-application public consultation
The period of public consultation, which must include local communities, is the best opportunity to influence a proposal. Look for information on the developer’s web site, and get your responses in by the deadlines set. There may be several rounds of pre-application consultation, so it is important to register with the developer as an interested party so they inform you of each consultation.

At this stage, the public can register with the planning authority and provide a summary of their views of the application in writing. Everyone who has registered with the planning authority and made a relevant representation will be invited to attend a preliminary meeting run and chaired by a Planning Inspector.

This stage may last for several months and people who have registered to have their say are invited to provide more details of their views in writing to the Examiner.

Careful consideration is given by the Examining Authority to all the important and relevant matters, including the representations of all interested parties, any evidence submitted and answers provided to questions set out in writing and explained at hearings.

If you have an objection it is worth thinking carefully about what your objection may be and how it may be viewed by the developers. It is important to be clear about what you are objecting to and what you would view as an acceptable result.

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