By Daniel Hunter
Further improvements need to be made to major infrastructure planning in the UK to help accelerate investment and speed up decision-making, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said today (Monday).
The UK’s leading business group is calling on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to attracting the £200 billion of investment needed in our infrastructure by 2015, by making the major infrastructure planning system as effective as possible.
In a new report, Minor measures, major results — Fine-tuning the major infrastructure planning system, the CBI urges the Government to reduce uncertainty at the pre-application stage, simplify the non-planning consent landscape, and introduce more flexibility and a sense of urgency into the system.
Currently, there are 52 major proposed projects in the pipeline, including wind farms, nuclear power stations and key transport upgrades, which have not even reached application stage.
“Businesses approve of the Government’s reforms to our major infrastructure planning system to streamline planning decisions, but it’s vital we don’t lose momentum while these significant changes take hold. Too many applications are still at the initial stages, at a time when we need major investment in our infrastructure," Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said.
“We’re suggesting ways the Government can fine-tune the system to spur on much-needed new infrastructure, such as energy plants, railway lines, airports, roads, ports and waste facilities.
“Investing in major infrastructure projects will bring big rewards for our economy, with new jobs and growth. But investors both at home and abroad must have the confidence that the planning system will deliver timely decisions, so the Government needs to act now. Waiting for a much fuller review in 2014 would be a lost opportunity.”
Following consultation with its members, the CBI’s recommendations to the Government include:
- Defining its remaining National Policy Statements
- Continuing to simplify and streamline non-planning consents under the Penfold recommendations
- Allowing developers to be involved in training case workers
- Encouraging case workers to provide non-binding pro-active advice to applicants at pre-application stage
- Publishing commercially sensitive information only once initial discussions have taken place in a planning application.
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