Planning and development (electricity)

Here you will find electricity-related guidance for national, regional, and local planning authorities and other statutory consultees.  We are regularly consulted on issues of local, regional, and national importance. We also must comply with various planning system when we have to consider the location, installation, and removal of equipment used as part of our high-voltage electricity transmission network.

We enjoy open and constructive dialogue with many planning authorities and interested parties. We are always keen that you approach us as soon as possible if you have a land use or planning issue that you wish to discuss.

We encourage developers, designers, and contractors to contact Plant Protection when planning any excavation works close to our pipelines. We can provide free: 

  • Technical guidance
  • Asset information, and
  • Essential safety information.

We also provide a free service to mark out the location of our pipelines.

We aim to give you an overview here of how we operate and how we can help you.

Developing infrastructure

We provide information for planning authorities and developers on our electricity transmission lines and substations in a downloadable PDF guide:

Download the Development near overhead lines document

It covers planning and amenity issues, both with regard to our approach to siting new equipment, and to development proposals near lines and substations.

Local development framework

Amec currently manages our development plan monitoring contract for both electricity and gas transmission asset management. This enables us to comment on any of the development plans and identify existing assets that are located within potential development areas. If you require further information from Amec about local plan monitoring please email them: [email protected].

National Parks commitment

As a member of the Corporate Forum for National Parks, we welcome the opportunity to work with the Campaign for National Parks to promote understanding of the importance and value of National Parks, both to our employees and wider stakeholders.

For more information please read this document:

Download our National Parks Commitment document

We are currently working on a project called the Visual Impact Provision (VIP). This is a major opportunity to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife, and environmental heritage of our most protected landscapes. The project will use a £500m allocation by Ofgem to carry out work to help reduce the impact of existing transmission lines in English and Welsh Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks.

For more details, please visit the VIP project pages.

Community consultation

We consult with local interest groups and residents whenever we are planning works that will have a high impact on a residential area or a site valued for its amenity. This also helps us to identify environmental issues that can be taken into account and more effectively mitigated.

For consultation to be most effective, it is done at an early stage where the results can be used to influence the design of a project.

When undertaking works that will have a less significant impact, we liaise with and inform affected residents according to the severity of that impact. We will take into account local biodiversity action plans and other local initiatives being undertaken by local communities.

Under the provisions of the Planning Act 2008 we have a duty to consult and engage with communities and stakeholders. We have decided to integrate our amenity duties and our community/stakeholder engagement duties into one document, which covers how we will meet these duties. 

We have recently reviewed our Schedule 9 statement. In preparing this revised version, we have consulted statutory bodies, non-government organisations, and representatives of other stakeholder groups. We have also drawn on our own experiences of delivering a wide range and scale of electricity projects. Read more:

Download Our stakeholder, community, and amenity policy document

Consents, permissions, and licences

When we need to build new energy infrastructure, such as overhead electric lines and substations, a number of consents or approvals may be required from different permitting bodies. The number and type of consents required depend on the type of infrastructure and where it is located. Principal types of consents are set out below.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

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. For National Grid, NSIPs include new overhead lines and pipelines.  Applications for DCOs are submitted to and examined by the Planning Inspectorate and determined by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  

Where we undertake electricity or gas works to connect a new energy customer, and their project is an NSIP, it may be possible for our network reinforcements to form part of the customer’s DCO application.  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 us to apply separately for a DCO.

Planning permission from local authorities

Other types of new energy infrastructure might require planning permission from local planning authorities.  Examples can include new compressor stations, pressure reduction installations, block valves, and other above ground installations on our gas network. 

Major extensions to sites like these, together with temporary construction access onto classified roads, may need planning permission.  Where such works are needed in connection with a proposed NSIP, it may be possible to incorporate them into the DCO application as 'associated development'.

New or modified accesses on to classified roads, temporary or permanent culverts, outfalls and other drainage works may also require planning permission from the local planning authority.

Permitted development

We, as a statutory undertaker, benefit from Permitted Development rights under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which allows us to undertake certain works without needing to submit applications for planning permission. 

This includes works to existing gas sites, including the installation of plant and equipment, and installation of new or extensions to existing buildings, subject to limitations.  Permitted development rights also allow the installation of buried gas pipelines subject to location, length and any likely significant environmental effects.

Permits and licences

Permits or licences may be required from the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales for works in flood zones, where flood defenses are affected, or where rivers and watercourses are crossed.  Under local by-laws, approvals may be required from local drainage boards.  Permits may also be required in relation to the operation of gas compressor sites. 

Licenses may be required when undertaking works in the vicinity of protected species and assents required when undertaking works within in or near to ecologically designated areas.

With the agreement of the relevant consenting bodies, permits or licences (secondary consents or approvals) may also be included in DCO applications to the Planning Inspectorate as 'ancillary matters'.

Offshore infrastructure

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 established marine planning and licensing authorities across the UK.  The Marine Management Organisation (England), Natural Resources Wales, and Marine Scotland are responsible for their respective territorial waters, including inshore (from Mean High Water to 12 nautical miles) and offshore (12 to 200 nautical miles).

A marine licence might be needed for activities in or over the sea, or on or under the seabed, which can include the installation of electric lines or pipelines 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.  Certain activities are exempt from requiring marine licences. 

With the agreement of the marine authorities, permits, or licences may also be included in DCO applications to the Planning Inspectorate as 'ancillary matters'.