Town Planning Review

Participatory planning and major infrastructure: experiences in REI NSIP regulation

Town Planning Review (2019), 90, (2), 117–138.


Planning for large-scale infrastructure is expected to enable public participation, including in decisions on major renewable-energy infrastructure (REI). This paper examines the UK’s Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) decision-making processes, which offer a particular arrangement of the representation and contributions of local people, with limited opportunities for dialogue. The study uses focus groups to provide insights into public experiences of involvement in REI NSIP regulation. Findings confirm that there is a need to go beyond statutory requirements to enable full and equitable access to decision making on large-scale developments, and shows the importance of considering how procedures operate for specific communities. They also indicate the importance of local understandings of power within the context of REI decision making, and ad hoc relational work of planners in ‘non-dialogic’ participatory contexts.

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