A Development Consent Order (DCO) application is made by a Promoter in order to gain consent to undertake a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).

NSIPs are major infrastructure developments in England and Wales and include: major road and rail projects; power stations; offshore and onshore renewable energy projects; pipelines and new airports and airport extensions; and significant business and commercial projects.

An integral part of the DCO process is Land Referencing, which involves identifying all people or parties with an interest in the land or property, and determining what the nature of that interest is.

DCO applications are made to the Planning Inspectorate, which considers it and makes a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State for the final decision on whether development consent should be granted for the proposed project. It is therefore vital that a Promotor has the confidence that they can evidence that ‘diligent inquiry’ has been met when attempting to identify all of the affected parties and in ensuring that all affected parties receive the relevant statutory notices.

Ardent delivered the first ever successful DCO at Rookery South Resource Recovery Facility for Covanta Rookery South Limited, which was consented in 2011, and has been the market leader in DCO delivery ever since.

An essential part of our success in the delivery of DCOs stems from our experienced team of Land Referencers and our fundamental understanding of land, land interests and how parties may be affected by a proposed project.

Some of our most recent notable DCO projects include:

  • Highways England – A66 Northern Trans-Pennine Project
  • East West Railway Company – East West Rail Phase 3
  • SSE Thermal – Keadby 3 Low Carbon Gas Power Station Project
  • Highways England – A12 Chelmsford to A120 Widening Scheme
  • Net Zero Teesside Power Limited – The ‘Net Zero Teesside Project’
  • Highways England – A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Road Improvement Scheme
  • Norfolk Boreas Limited – Norfolk Boreas
  • North Somerset Council – Portishead Branch Line – MetroWest Phase 1
  • Norfolk Vanguard Limited – Norfolk Vanguard
  • VPI Immingham B Ltd – VPI Immingham OCGT
  • Cory Riverside Energy – Riverside Energy Park
  • Highways England – M42 Junction 6 Improvement
  • Port of Tilbury London Limited – Tilbury2



Land Referencing is undertaken from an early stage in the DCO process as the information gathered is also used to facilitate the enabling of environmental surveys. Validated information is also required in advance of the statutory consultation, as Promotors have a statutory obligation to identify and consult with people and organisations that have a legal interest in property or land that may be affected by a proposed scheme.

Land Referencing also forms the backbone of the Book of Reference that accompanies the DCO application and ensures that all affected parties receive the relevant statutory notices.

Notifications include:

  • Section 56 – Notice of Acceptance of an Application for a DCO
  • Section 134 – Notice of Compulsory Acquisition


The Book of Reference is a document required as part of the DCO application, which is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in line with the Planning Act 2008. The Book of Reference sets out who has been identified as having a legal interest in land within the project boundary or in a location that may be affected by the proposed scheme. Those listed in the Book of Reference then receive a notice advising them that the application has been accepted for review and also advising them how to make representations in respect of their property or land.

To find out how our Land Referencing services can help deliver your DCO, please contact Mike Crowther at: mikecrowther@ardent-management.com


Ardent’s purpose-built land information database, Atlas, has been designed to help Ardent drive efficiencies throughout the land referencing process by utilising a bespoke, integrated platform to deliver data to our teams at the click of a button. As well as providing an innovative, digitally-focussed approach to land referencing, the AGI team allows Ardent to manage robust data, reducing risk and cost while enforcing data security and increasing efficiencies in compliance with GDPR.

For more information regarding our Atlas database or the services on off from our Atlas and Geospatial Insights team contact our AGI Lead, Adam Hankinson at: adamhankinson@ardent-management.com

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