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New Planning Act makes the statute book

The Government's new consent regime for major schemes like power stations, airports and reservoirs has now been formally established following Royal Assent for its latest planning legislation.

Under the Planning Act 2008 ministers will create a new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), which will determine nationally significant projects. The Act will give legal force to a new unified consents regime and a new requirement for a suite of National Policy Statements (NPSs) setting out government planning policy in such areas as nuclear development and airport expansion.

The new legislation also gives ministers powers to bring in a new tax, the Community Infrastructure Levy, and makes a number of changes to existing development control and development plan arrangements.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said: "In the future 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 said: "During these tough economic times a quick, predictable and fair planning service that can deliver new renewable energy supplies, public transport and clean water is vital. 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."

In the New Year the Government will set out a timetable for setting up the IPC and consult on the detailed regulations and NPSs required to implement the new system.

Scrutiny of the first NPSs in draft form is expected to begin in the summer of 2009 with the first tranche designated in 2010.

Read the Communities and Local Government press release.

Roger Milne

27 November 2008


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