It is widely accepted that the former planning regime for national infrastructure was unsatisfactory. Many projects became bogged down in planning procedures and there were problems for communities and objectors in getting their points across.
The Planning Act 2008 radically improves these arrangements through a single consent regime.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) will reduce the time taken to decide nationally significant infrastructure projects, while improving opportunities for public engagement.
I strongly believe that local authorities are pivotal to the whole process.
Local authorities will produce reports for the IPC on the quality of the promoter’s consultation, and the local impacts of the project.
While commissioners must make decisions in accordance with national policy statements, they are not the final word.
Applications will be rejected if a commissioner concludes that local and environmental impacts outweigh national need. We will not be a rubber stamp for government.
Far from being unaccountable, we will give reasons for our decisions and may be called before Parliament to explain them.
Decisions made by the IPC are subject to judicial review.
Shadow ministers recognise the need for national policy statements; the need for a special process to replace the lengthy planning inquiries for infrastructure projects; and the need for a single consents regime for major infrastructure projects.
The new process relies heavily on local authorities sharing their expert knowledge of their communities with the IPC.
Sir Michael Pitt, chair, Infrastructure Planning Commission