Tuesday, December 02, 2008

UK Planning Bill receives Royal Assent Plus Environment and Transport Bills Moved On

Planning Bill receives Royal Assent...

Michael Donnelly, PlanningResource, 27 November 2008

The Planning Bill has completed the legislative process after receiving Royal Assent last night.

The government says the Planning Act 2008 will enable decisions on major infrastructure projects in areas such as energy, aviation, road and rail transport, water and waste to be taken much more speedily than under the current system.

Under the Act ministers will set out National Policy Statements detailing national infrastructure priorities and the decisions as to whether to allow individual projects to go ahead will then be taken independently by a new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

The government will set out a timetable to set-up the IPC and consult on the detailed regulations and NPSs to implement the new system in the New Year.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said: "Now that the Planning Bill has been given Royal Assent we can begin to create the faster, fairer planning system we need to reduce our fossil fuel addiction and build up a new generation of renewable energy infrastructure sources like wind power. Many low carbon power sources will now get faster approval, and the country could save £300m a year."

Planning Bill minister John Healey added: "The new Planning Act 2008 will bring about real culture change for deciding the future needs of our national infrastructure. Importantly it will also give the public three chances to get their views on proposals across instead of one."

But countryside campaigners the CPRE expressed doubts about how well the Bill will work in practice. Paul Miner, CPRE’s senior planning campaigner commented: "We have monitored the Bill closely throughout its passage through Parliament. Some of it is sensible. But we doubt that its centrepiece – an expensive, unelected, unaccountable commission taking big planning decisions – will work in practice.

"There is a grave danger that this new commission will be seen merely as a promoter and a rubber stamp for highly damaging infrastructure projects imposed without proper debate. It will be interesting to see who steps forward to be a commissioner on this new body, given the challenges it faces."

The government launched the recruitment process for the position of IPC chairman in October. Shortlisting will take place early next year with interviews in spring and appointment in early summer.

...along with new environment and transport bills

Susanna Gillman, PlanningResource, 27 November 2008

A raft of other legislation that will impact on planning was passed last night along with the Planning Bill.

The Climate Change, Energy and Local Transport bills have also gained Royal Assent.

The climate legislation makes the UK the first country in the world to adopt legally-binding carbon emission targets.

Under the Climate Change Act, the government will have to adhere to five year carbon budgets and will be required to provide annual reports on its progress towards meeting the budgets.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: "The UK is the first country in the world to introduce a legally-binding framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“Setting the 80 per cent target was the easy part: now the work really begins. Government, communities, businesses and individuals need to work together to bring about change.

"The Energy and Planning Acts will be instrumental in reducing carbon emissions, removing barriers to enable industry to invest in important new infrastructure, and giving individuals and communities the incentive to use energy more efficiently and generate their own heat and energy."

Meanwhile the Local Transport Act 2008 will help bring all modes of transport together, by strengthening the role of the Passenger Transport Authorities - to be renamed Integrated Transport Authorities (ITAs) - and by enabling new ones to be established.

These will help major urban areas outside London to improve coordination of the road network and public transport.

The existing six Passenger Transport Authorities will be renamed ITAs from early in the new year. They will take on full responsibility for local transport planning across their areas.

The Act also creates the opportunity for local areas to review their existing arrangements, and to propose reforms including enhanced powers and boundary changes.

More at UK Government.

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