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  • Consents, rights and permissions

  • When National Grid needs to build new energy infrastructure, such as gas or CCS pipelines, overhead electric lines and above ground installations such as substations or compressor stations, a number of consents or approvals may be required from different permitting bodies. The number and type of consents required depends on the type of infrastructure and where it is located, including whether it is onshore or offshore. For example:

    Certain types of energy infrastructure fall within the categories of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) which require a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act 2008. Applications for DCOs are currently determined by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) and from April 2012 will be decided by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (the Secretary of State). For National Grid NSIPs can include:

    Permitted Development

      • New high voltage overhead lines in England and Wales, except those crossing land that we occupy or control or certain minor works which are exempt; and
      • New gas transporter pipe-lines in England only and other pipelines (e.g. CCS pipelines) in England and Wales which exceed certain size thresholds or meet certain criteria and would be likely to have significant environmental effects.
      • Where our energy infrastructure is needed to connect just one customer and where that customer’s project is also an NSIP in its own right (e.g. a new onshore electricity generating station over 50MW or offshore generating station over 100MW), it is possible and may be appropriate where timescales coincide, for our network reinforcements to form part of the customer’s DCO application. Conversely, where we have an NSIP proposal that is needed for a variety of reasons (not just to meet the needs of a single customer) or involves network reinforcements in advance of anticipated future energy developments, it will often be necessary for National Grid to apply separately to the IPC for a DCO for its works. In such circumstances we will endeavour to synchronise our pre-application consultations and DCO application with the customers we are connecting to the extent that we are able to.
      • Under the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, certain works on our electricity and natural gas transportation networks may be “permitted development” and can be undertaken without first needing to apply for planning permission. This can include the installation of additional plant and equipment at operational sites and extensions to existing buildings, subject to certain limitations.
      • Installation of underground electricity cables is also permitted development and does not require either consent under the Planning Act or planning permission, although the sealing end compound(s) at the point of transition between overhead lines and underground cables may require planning permission from the local planning authority.    

    Offshore Infrastructure

      • For offshore infrastructure a new consenting and licensing regime was introduced in 2011 by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Inshore (from Mean High Water to 12 nautical miles) and offshore (12 to 200 nautical miles) the Marine Management Organisation, National Assembly Wales, Marine Scotland and the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland are the marine planning authorities for their respective territorial waters. Within those areas a licence might be needed for activities in or over the sea, or on or under the sea bed. This can include the installation of cables, pipelines and overhead lines or investigatory work such as intrusive surveys. Depending on the nature of the proposals there may also be overlaps with other consenting regimes, particularly where infrastructure comes ashore.
      • Where offshore proposals are NSIP development, consent for the offshore elements in addition to any onshore NSIP elements will be needed under the Planning Act 2008.

    Planning Permission via Local Planning Authorities

      • Other types of new energy infrastructure might require planning permission from local planning authorities. Examples can include new substations, sealing end compounds or AC/DC converter stations on our electricity network or new compressor stations, pressure reduction installations, block valves and other above ground installations on our gas transportation or proposed CCS pipeline networks. Major extensions to those sorts of sites and temporary construction accesses onto classified roads may also need planning permission. Where such works are in England and are needed in connection with a proposed NSIP, it may be possible to incorporate them into a DCO application to the IPC/Secretary of State as “associated development”. In Wales separate applications for planning permission to local planning authorities are required as planning is a devolved matter.

     Other types of Planning Permission

      • Temporary or permanent culverts, outfalls and other drainage works may require planning permission and formal consents from the Environment Agency. Such approvals may relate to river crossings and other works affecting watercourses. Under local bye laws, there could be approvals required from local drainage boards and under other legislation there can be a variety of secondary consents needed. With the agreement of the relevant consenting bodies, secondary consents or approvals may also be included in a DCO application to the IPC/Secretary of State as “ancillary matters”.
      • In addition to these primary and secondary consents, where our new onshore infrastructure crosses land that National Grid does not own or occupy the agreement of the relevant landowners is required. In most cases where rights to install, operate, inspect, maintain and repair are needed, we will seek to agree an easement with the landowner.

    For information about our current major projects please see the Projects pages on our web-site.