Glossary of terms

The national infrastructure planning process is a legal process governed by the Planning Act 2008 and related legislation. We are committed to ensuring that we make this process as inclusive as possible. We have tried to use everyday language wherever possible on the website, but we may also refer to a number of terms which are used in the Planning Act 2008. Our helpline (0303 444 5000) can advise on terms that are not covered in this glossary.


This refers to the developer’s APPLICATION for a DEVELOPMENT CONSENT ORDER or DCO. An application consists of a series of documents and plans which can all be found on the corresponding project page of this website.


This is a statutory Order which provides consent for the project and means that a range of other consents, such as planning permission and listed building consent will not be required. A DCO can also include provisions authorising the compulsory acquisition of land or of interests in or rights over land which is the subject of an APPLICATION. A draft DCO is submitted by the developer with every APPLICATION.


This is the formal, legal process, governed by the Planning Act 2008, and related legislation. The examination period starts the day after the PRELIMINARY MEETING has been closed and can last up to six months.


The EXAMINING AUTHORITY is the Inspector or the Panel of Inspectors appointed to conduct the examination of the APPLICATION.


This means a legal interest that you currently have in the land affected by the DCO, for example where you own, lease, rent, or occupy the land, or have some other legal right over or in relation to it.


INTERESTED PARTIES may participate in the EXAMINATION of the APPLICATION and will receive formal notifications as the EXAMINATION progresses. Some people and organisations are INTERESTED PARTIES automatically and don’t need to register to become an INTERESTED PARTY. Other people and organisations can register to become an INTERESTED PARTY, by completing the ‘Registration and Relevant Representation’ form and submitting it to the Planning Inspectorate, ensuring that the correct and complete form is received before the specified deadline.


A hearing or hearings on specific issue(s) may be held by the EXAMINING AUTHORITY if they consider it necessary to ensure adequate examination of the issue or ensure that an INTERESTED PARTY has a fair chance to put their case.


An OPEN FLOOR HEARING is held if requested by an INTERESTED PARTY, or the EXAMINING AUTHORITY for this APPLICATION considers it necessary. Anyone who is an INTERESTED PARTY may request an OPEN FLOOR HEARING.


This is a procedural meeting held after the deadline for making a RELEVANT REPRESENTATION has passed, once the EXAMINING AUTHORITY has made its initial assessment of the principal issues after consideration of the RELEVANT REPRESENTATIONS. All INTERESTED PARTIES will receive a notification in advance of the PRELIMINARY MEETING setting out a draft timetable for the EXAMINATION including any proposed hearing(s). The meeting is chaired by the EXAMINING AUTHORITY, to consider how the APPLICATION will be examined, for example identifying the initial principal issues and the timetable for the EXAMINATION. The merits of the PROJECT are not explored at the meeting.


This is the proposed development, such as a power station, wind farm, section of railway, road, or electricity line for which consent is being sought in the APPLICATION.


Broadly such claims can be made by persons or organisations whose land or whose rights in land could be affected by the proposed development. Their land or rights may not be subject to compulsory acquisition powers sought in the application or indeed be within the land to which the application relates, but they may have a right to compensation under either part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 or s.10 of the Compulsory Acquisition Act 1965 if their land or interest is affected by the development.


This is the generic term for submissions made about an application. There are different types of representations as described below.


A RELEVANT REPRESENTATION must be made on the Registration and Relevant Representation form. It must include amongst other things an outline of the principal submissions an interested party intends to make in relation to the application. This must be provided in the ‘REPRESENTATION’ section of the form. To be valid a relevant representation must be:

  • made on time;
  • on the correct form; and
  • complete (ie all mandatory fields correctly filled in).

The EXAMINING AUTHORITY will consider all valid ‘RELEVANT REPRESENTATIONS’, and each will form part of the evidence considered during the EXAMINATION.


The WRITTEN REPRESENTATION is anan opportunity for interested parties to expand on the issues set out in their RELEVANT REPRESENTATION and to provide evidence or documents to support this. An interested party does not have to submit a WRITTEN REPRESENTATION if it considers that all the points it intended to make have been made in its RELEVANT REPRESENTATION, or have been adequately made by another INTERESTED PARTY.

Interested parties must identify in their WRITTEN REPRESENTATION those parts of the APPLICATION they agree and/or disagree with and make sure that the WRITTEN REPRESENTATION is submitted by the relevant date in the timetable so that the Examining Authority can consider it as part of the examination.


Interested parties may be able to speak at a hearing and make representations orally. However, any oral representation should be based on either the RELEVANT or WRITTEN REPRESENTATIONS made by the interested party by whom or on whose behalf the oral representations are made. An interested party does not have to make an ORAL REPRESENTATION if it considers that all the points it intended to make have been made in its RELEVANT or WRITTEN REPRESENTATIONS, or have been adequately made by another INTERESTED PARTY.