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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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IN DEPTH: MINISTER'S PLANS FOR GRAND PLANNING REFORM ATTACKED BY CONSERVATIONISTS ...
IN DEPTH: MINISTER'S PLANS FOR GRAND PLANNING REFORM ATTACKED BY CONSERVATIONISTS

The government has promised 'wholesale change' in the planning system after it admitted that business was right to see the existing regime as complex, slow and unpredictable, reports the Financial Times(p4). Planning minister Lord Falconer told the Confederation of British Industry conference in Birmingham yesterday that the ramshackle system 'costs us dearly in economic prosperity, in quality of development and in competitiveness.' He said business 'has no confidence that sensible long-term planning decisions on its part will be reflected in clear long-term decisions by the planning system. Business does not have confidence in the system, and it is right.'

However, conservationists attacked Lord Falconer's plans as unacceptable, reported The Times(p13). Gill Hatcher, planning campaigner for the Council for the Protection of Rural England, said: 'We're looking at the development of a two-tier system, where the really important major developments don't get the kind of detailed scrutiny from local people as, for example, a neighbour's extension.' Friends of the Earth said the government's plans would ride roughshod over local democracy and environmental considerations.

PROTESTS M AY GROUND HEATHROW'S FIFTH TERMINAL

BAA's attempts to build a fifth terminal at Heathrow airport have entered the history books for triggering the UK's longest public inquiry, reports the Financial Times(p4). Eight years after the original planning application was filed, in February 1993, the world's leading airports group, which operates seven airports in the UK, still awaits a decision.

MINISTERS FACE CALLS FOR COMMISSION TO ADDRESS VOTER APATHY

Ministers face scathing commons criticism today for their 'extremely complacent' attitude to the fall in the number of people voting at elections, according to The Independent(p10). The commons public administration select committee called for the creation of a democracy commission to combat the 'civic crisis' of the slump in voter turn-out.

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