Speed up timeframe on major infrastructure – NIC


The Commission proposes reforms for the infrastructure planning system to improve scheme delivery.

Photo of electrical towers.
Credit: NIC.

Infrastructure planning systems are currently too slow and lead to delays in delivering transformational infrastructure in the UK, a new report shows. 

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) proposes that local authorities should be offered more tangible direct benefits for hosting infrastructure projects. 

Benefits include: 

  • Proximity-based payments for households. 
  • Funding for local projects. 

To reach the UK’s net zero goals, NIC has also proposed a new data platform to address environmental impact and speed of delivery for infrastructure projects

Further recommendations include: 

  • Making it a legal requirement to review National Policy Statements (NPS) every five years. 
  • National Policy Statements should include clear tests against which proposed projects will be assessed based on technology and timelines. 
  • Onshore wind should be brought back into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects system by the government. 
  • A new central coordination mechanism to review NPS should be implemented to shorten the consenting times of schemes. 


The NIC estimates that its recommendations will benefit the consenting system for infrastructure projects by: 

  • Reducing consenting decisions from four-plus years to two and a half. Longterm, this will be reduced further to under two years. 
  • Agility when responding to changes in technology and legislation. 
  • Creating greater clarity on outcomes and timescales for decisions. 
  • Improving the natural environment and benefits for local communities. 

Full scope

The report was commissioned by the Chancellor in February. 

It builds on the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Action Plan published that month and other policies around decision times, like Offshore Wind Environmental Improvement Package.

To enforce environmental mitigation strategies, the report suggests the government should develop a system for guidance for scheme-level assessments by the end of 2025


The firms who engaged with the NIC in delivering this report include: 

  • Arcadis
  • Arup 
  • Infrastructure and Projects Authority
  • Institution of Civil Engineers
  • CBI 

More firms are listed in the report. 

“Improving the speed of the planning system for major infrastructure does not need to come at the expense of good decisions which take communities and the environment into account,” states the executive summary

“The Commission believes that the system can be reformed to support the delivery of net zero, energy security, climate resilience and economic growth across regions.”

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