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17 July 2019

834: The Planning Act blog is 10

Today’s entry looks back at 10 years of the Planning Act blog.

On 17 July 2009 I published my first blog post on the Planning Act 2008; please excuse an entry devoted to reminiscing. Entry number one seems to have disappeared from the face of the Internet but at least I have a copy saved on my computer. I noted:

‘The Planning Act 2008 is one of the most important pieces of legislation affecting major infrastructure projects for many years. The same new procedure will be available for the third runway at Heathrow Airport, new nuclear power stations and windfarms being planned around the English and Welsh coast, the next high speed railway north from London, and many more high-profile projects.’

So, how’s that going? The application for the third runway at Heathrow Airport is currently undergoing statutory consultation a mere 10 years later; one new nuclear power station has been approved (Hinkley Point C) and another has recently completed its examination (Wylfa Newydd). There have been quite a few offshore windfarm applications – 12 have been consented and another four are in progress – but the next high speed railway chose not to use the regime and was authorised by a 2017 Act of Parliament instead (with another phase in Parliament and a third being planned). Only one out of the four predicted areas is flourishing, then. One that wasn’t mentioned – highways – is taking off even more, with 14 consented and 11 in progress.

The rate of blog entries was very rapid at the beginning, sometimes with three a week; now it is a more sedate weekly publication, with some weeks missed out. That’s partly because there’s less to talk about and partly because real work is intruding on my time. Tsk. The average is 83 a year, so still about one and a half a week.

I haven’t analysed the spread of topics but they have covered every DCO decision, NPS designation and judicial review, and the major amendments to the Planning Act 2008 and associated guidance and advice. I went on to say:

‘I do not adopt a particular standpoint of promoting the new regime or being opposed to it, and will not hesitate to point out flaws in either the regime itself or in the arguments against it. I hope that this blog will become essential reading for anyone considering promoting or likely to be affected by a major infrastructure project, and should become a useful resource for finding all matters relating to the new regime in one place.’

Yeah, right, I’m not sure that editorial independence quite worked out, but I do point out flaws in the regime every so often – I criticised the government in the last post!

Has it been worth it? Yes, undoubtedly. My legal practice has definitely benefited a lot, and my network is much larger than it otherwise would have been. If you can find a topic that (a) interests you, (b) is relevant to your line of work and (c) is in an area with regular developments and changes, then I would wholeheartedly recommend blogging, or by now probably a more modern equivalent would be more suitable.

The blog probably won’t last another ten years (will the Planning Act regime?), but I might aim for 1000 posts. I’ve enjoyed writing it (which is probably why I’ve managed to keep it going for ten years); I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it so far.

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