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29 November 2019

846: what the manifestos say about infrastructure planning

Today’s entry reports on the main parties’ manifestos’ statements on infrastructure planning (main being those likely to win a significant number of seats in England). I have searched for references to ‘planning’, ‘infrastructure’, ‘energy’ and ‘transport’ and extracted what I think are the main pledges, sorted into general planning, general infrastructure, energy, transport and communications.

There are differences on fracking, airport expansion and the speed with which new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned.

Look out next week for the annual Christmas champagne competition…

Conservatives

  • Greater local authority powers to tackle unauthorised traveller camps;
  • Developer contributions to be used to discount homes in perpetuity by a third;
  • We will make the planning system simpler for the public and small builders; and
  • We will amend planning rules so that infrastructure – roads, schools, GP surgeries – comes before people move into new homes.

 

  • We will invest thoughtfully and responsibly in infrastructure; and
  • We will invest £100 billion in additional infrastructure spending.

The only mention of a National Infrastructure Strategy is that it will contain the biggest ever pothole-filling programme.

  • No changes to the planning system on fracking, but a moratorium unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely;
  • We will use our £1 billion Ayrton fund to develop affordable and accessible clean energy;
  • We will support gas for hydrogen production and nuclear energy including fusion; and
  • It is for Heathrow to demonstrate that it can meet its air quality and noise obligations.

 

  • We will build Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester;
  • We will invest in the Midlands Rail hub;
  • We will invest £1 billion in completing a fast-charging network; we will prioritise a national plug-in network and gigafactory (I had to look that up – it’s a battery factory like Tesla’s);
  • We will consult on the earliest date we can phase out new petrol and diesel cars;
  • We will consider the outcome of the Oakervee review of HS2 and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome; and
  • We will restore many of the Beeching lines.

Labour

  • We will bring together transport and land-use planning;
  • We will rebalance power in the planning system by giving local government greater freedom to set planning fees and by requiring the climate and environmental emergency to be factored into all planning decisions;
  • We will review the planning guidance for developments in flood risk areas; and
  • We will end the conversion of office blocks to homes that sidestep planning permission through ‘permitted development’.

 

  • A Local Transformation Fund in each English region will be used exclusively to fund infrastructure projects decided at a local level; and
  • Public ownership will secure democratic control over nationally strategic infrastructure and provide collective stewardship for key natural resources.

 

  • A new UK National Energy Agency will own and maintain the national grid infrastructure and oversee the delivery of our decarbonisation targets;
  • We will bring our energy and water systems into democratic public ownership;
  • The supply arms of the Big Six energy companies will be brought into public ownership;
  • We will build 7,000 new offshore wind turbines, 2,000 new onshore wind turbines, enough solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches and new nuclear power needed for energy security;
  • We will put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s;
  • We will trial and expand tidal energy and invest to reduce the costs of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production;
  • We will immediately and permanently ban fracking; and
  • We will create jobs in Wales through environmental energy schemes such as the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project.

 

  • Labour will aim to end new sales of combustion engine vehicles by 2030;
  • We will invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in electric community car clubs; and
  • Any expansion of airports must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution, climate change obligations and countrywide benefits.

 

  • We will establish British Broadband, with two arms: British Digital Infrastructure (BDI) and the British Broadband Service (BBS).

Liberal Democrats

  • Scrap the rule which allows developers to convert offices and shops into residential properties without planning permission;
  • Reform the planning systems to reduce the need to travel; and
  • Reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure from affordable homes to schools, surgeries and roads alongside new homes.

 

  • Invest £130 billion in infrastructure;
  • Introduce a capital £50 billion Regional Rebalancing Programme for infrastructure spend;
  • We will ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission takes fully into account the climate and environmental implications of all national infrastructure decisions. I think the Lib Dems think that the NIC decides DCO applications but it doesn’t; and
  • Create a statutory duty on all local authorities to produce a Zero Carbon Strategy, including plans for local energy, transport and land use.

 

  • Remove the Conservatives’ restrictions on solar and wind and building more interconnectors;
  • Ban fracking because of its negative impacts on climate change; and
  • Ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, the energy regulator Ofgem, and the Crown Estate work together to deliver our net zero climate objective.

 

  • Electrify Britain’s railways and ensure that all new cars are electric by 2030;
  • Extend Ultra-Low Emission Zones to ten more towns and cities in England;
  • Oppose any expansion of Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted and any new airport in the Thames Estuary;
  • Create a new Railways Agency to oversee the operations of the railway network, removing the Department for Transport from day-to-day decision-making;
  • Continue to champion investment in the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine; and
  • A continued commitment to HS2, Crossrail 2 and other major new strategic rail routes.

 

  • A programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK – with a particular focus on connecting rural areas.

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