Our Development Consent Order
Seeking permission to build the scheme
This scheme is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), which means it’s classed as a large, complex infrastructure project that benefits the entire country.
To build the scheme, we need to gain a special type of planning permission called a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the Planning Inspectorate.
- Our DCO application has been through its examination phase which closed in February 2022. You can still read our application on the Planning Inspectorate's website.
- Read our digital Environmental Statement, which includes maps of the scheme.
- Read about some of the changes we've made to the scheme following our consultation with you.
- You can read more about the DCO process in this booklet or watch this short video
Development Consent Order process
The scheme’s examination stage of its Development Consent Order (DCO) application concluded on Friday 18 February 2022.
A panel of inspectors has been appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to scrutinise our application. They are called the Examining Authority.
What happens next
Over the next three months the Examining Authority will carefully consider all the evidence they’ve heard, including the many questions and representations from the public, local authorities and interested parties.
They will then recommend whether the Secretary of State for Transport should grant formal planning permission (a Development Consent Order) so construction can begin.
Following receipt of the Examining Authority’s Recommendation Report, the Secretary of State has a further three months to decide whether to grant or refuse development consent. We expect this decision to come late summer. The full Examining Authority’s report won’t be published until the decision is made.
While this is happening we will continue to talk and listen to our local communities and work closely with officers in the local authorities (Bedford Borough Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council) and their elected members, as well as Parish Councils and interested parties along the route of the proposed scheme.
Our archaeologists will continue to explore areas affected by the improvements. We will keep you posted on whatever we discover and what those finds might tell us. ‘Field 44’ in Bedfordshire has already uncovered evidence of an ancient farm, which has offered an incredible glimpse through time to see how life has changed over the last 6,000 years.
As well as archaeology, we will continue our ecological surveys and ground investigations, to inform the scheme design. This work is important as it will help ensure we’re fully prepared to start construction when permission is granted.
To keep up to date with scheme keep checking our website or follow us on social media:
Stages of an application for Development Consent
This is when we present the scheme to members of the public and stakeholders. We consulted on the scheme in 2019 and summer 2020. This feedback, along with ongoing engagement and design development, has been used to shape the scheme and prepare our DCO application.
This does not mean that our DCO application is approved, it is when the Planning Inspectorate decides whether we have submitted all the relevant documentation to allow the application to move forward.
This stage allowed anyone to register as an Interested Party. Interested Parties can submit a written representation or present their views at a public hearing. The Planning Inspectorate formally appointed a panel of inspectors to serve as the Examining Authority, and the first meeting will be held to discuss procedural issues and the timetable for examination, called the Preliminary Meeting.
This is a six-month process when the Examining Authority will examine the DCO application against the tests in the National Policy Statement for National Networks.
The Examining Authority will assess feedback from the public and stakeholders through written representations and the hearings. If you have registered as an Interested Party in the pre-examination phase, you can make a representation.
Following the end of the six-month examination stage, the Examining Authority will have three months to write a recommendation report and submit it to the Secretary of State for Transport.
The Secretary of State for Transport then has up to three months to make the final decision on whether to grant our DCO.
If the Secretary of State for Transport grants the DCO, this is the final stage of the process and provides a six-week window for anyone with legal grounds to challenge the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision through judicial review.
This is when scheme construction will start.