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 Customer Services team (0303 444 5000) can advise on terms that are not covered in this glossary.

Application

This refers to the developer’s application for a development consent order. An application consists of a series of documents and plans which can all be found on the National Infrastructure pages of the Planning Portal website.

Compulsory acquisition hearing

These take place at the request of anyone whose interest in land or rights over land are proposed to be compulsorily acquired. Only these ‘affected persons’ and the applicant have the right to request and be heard at a compulsory acquisition hearing. At any hearings, the Examining Authority will manage the proceedings and may set a time limit for contributions to ensure fairness to all participants.

Development consent order (DCO)

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.

Examination

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.

Examining Authority

The Examining Authority is the inspector or the panel of inspectors appointed to conduct the examination of the application.

Interest

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 party

Interested parties may participate in the examination of the application and will receive formal notifications as the examination progresses. Some people and organisations are automatically interested parties 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 form is received before the specified deadline.

Issue specific hearing

A hearing or hearings on specific issue(s) may be held if the Examining Authority considers it necessary to ensure adequate examination of the issue or ensure that an interested party has a fair chance to put their case.

Open floor hearing

An open floor hearing is held if requested by an interested party or if the Examining Authority considers it necessary. Anyone who is an interested party may request an open floor hearing.

Oral representation

This is the term used to describe the opportunity to speak in person at a hearing. Any oral representations should be based on either the relevant representation or written representation made by the person by whom or on whose behalf the oral representations are made. You do not have to make an oral representation if you consider that all the points you wish to make have been made in your relevant representation or in any written representation you make, or have been adequately made by another interested party.

While the Examining Authority does have some discretion to accept oral representations even from people who have not submitted a valid relevant representation, this should not be relied upon.

Preliminary Meeting

This is a procedural meeting held after the deadline for making a relevant representation has passed and 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, chaired by the Examining Authority, considers 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.

Project

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.

Relevant compensation claim

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 s10 of the Compulsory Acquisition Act 1965 if their land or interest is affected by the development.

Relevant representation

A relevant representation is amongst other things, a summary of the aspects of the application you agree and/or disagree with and your reasons why. To be valid it must be:

  • made on time;
  • on the correct form – the Registration and Relevant Representation form
  • complete (ie with 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.

Representation

This outlines what you agree and/or disagree with in the application. The Planning Act 2008 refers to three types of representation - relevant, written and oral.

Written representation

This is a more detailed written account of what you agree and/or disagree with in the application, together with any evidence or documents to support this. It is an opportunity to expand on the issues you have set out in your relevant representation. You do not have to submit a written representation if you consider that all the points you wish to make have been made in your relevant representation, or have been adequately made by another interested party.

While the Examining Authority does have some discretion to accept written representations even from people who have not submitted a valid relevant representation, this should not be relied upon.