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Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Planning Act 2008 / 1047: What do the main parties pledge for infrastructure planning?

This week saw the launch of the main parties’ manifestos. What do they pledge for infrastructure planning? Let’s take a look.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto ‘For a Fair Deal’ on 10 June. It can be downloaded here.

On biodiversity net gain it says that large developments will have to provide ‘up to 100%’ net gain. They will expand neighbourhood planning, properly fund local planning departments and introduce ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission.

They will require the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to take fully into account the environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions. They do realise the NIC don’t decide DCO applications, don’t they?

Conservatives

The Conservatives launched their manifesto ‘Clear plan, bold action, secure future’ on 11 June. It can be found here.

On page 9 there is a box about ‘speeding up infrastructure delivery.’ It makes the bold claim that they will reduce the average time it takes to ‘sign off major infrastructure projects’ from four years to one year. When I read that out in my office everyone laughed. The only way that would be possible would be to ignore adverse impacts, public participation and legal challenges.

Other measures in the box are:

  • reforms to ‘EU red tape’ to better protect nature – not sure what tape is being referred to, it’s not EIA, that is mentioned separately;
  • ensure requirements to offset impacts on an area are proportionate – a bit vague but may be referring to nutrient neutrality;
  • reduce the cost of infrastructure by allowing quicker changes to consented projects – that may be by putting in statutory timescales for non-material changes which is already a commitment;
  • ensure NPSs are regularly updated – already a commitment;
  • focus the role of statutory consultees on improving projects with clearer objectives – sounds good, tell me more; and
  • end frivolous legal challenges so judicial reviews that don’t have merit do not waste court time – that happens already to some extent but is easier said than done.

 

Elsewhere, they pledge to:

  • ensure offshore cables reduce the amount of onshore infrastructure, such as substations;
  • halve the time it takes for new nuclear reactors to be approved;
  • ensure democratic consent for onshore wind – ie no change to the effective ban;
  • support solar not on our best agricultural land; and
  • cut red tape that holds back the planting of trees in the planning system.

Greens

12 June was the turn of the Green Party. Their manifesto ‘Real Hope. Real Change.’ can be found here.

Relevant pledges are:

  • a minimum threshold of community ownership in onshore sustainable energy infrastructure;
  • extensive use of offshore power distribution networks;
  • all planning applications will be required to include whole-life carbon and energy calculations; and
  • we will end the de-facto ban on onshore wind.

Labour

On 13 June Labour launched their manifesto ‘Change’, which can be found here.

Highlights relating to infrastructure and planning are:

  • develop a ten-year infrastructure strategy;
  • launch the National Infrastructure and Service Transformation Authority (NISTA) (by merging the National Infrastructure Commission and the Major Projects Authority);
  • set out new National Policy Statements;
  • make major projects faster and cheaper by slashing red tape;
  • build support for developments by ensuring that communities directly benefit;
  • make it easier to build laboratories, digital infrastructure and gigafactories;
  • upgrade our national transmission infrastructure and rewire Britain; and
  • restore mandatory housing targets.

Reform

The Reform Party manifesto launch is not until Monday 17 June, but they have already released a ‘working draft’, here of ‘Our Contract with You’.

It does not contain much of substance:

  • fast track new housing on brownfield sites and infrastructure projects to boost businesses;
  • especially in the North and in coastal regeneration areas; and
  • ask why UK infrastructure costs so much more than other countries.

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