This is entry number 122, first published on 8 April 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.
Today’s entry reports on the results of a survey on infrastructure conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) ('the ultimate business network') has just published the results of a survey it conducted in January amongst its members on infrastructure provision in the UK. The survey results can be found here. The survey tested businesses' perception of problems with transport, energy and communications infrastructure (only the first two of which are covered by the Planning Act regime). Transport raised the most concerns, then communications, then energy. This may be because time delays as well as price affect the first two but the effect of the third is only felt direclty through prices.
The key question of relevance to the new Planning Act regime was as follows:
'The Government’s Planning Act has created an independent Infrastructure Planning Commission to make decisions on major infrastructure schemes of national significance in order to streamline and shorten the planning process. Do you agree that the UK’s major infrastructure planning decisions should be made independent of local and national politics?'
62% of the 3000 or so respondents replied in the affirmative, 28% in the negative and 10% didn't know. Although such surveys are almost bound to produce the result that the current system should be improved, more than 2:1 support for the IPC may give the Conservatives pause for thought in their calls for it to be abolished. In any case, as reported several times on this blog, the abolition appears to be in name only: the authorisation regime is here to stay whoever wins the election.
On page 5 the BCC lists twelve transport projects, one in each UK region and one national, that it would like to see implemented. They are mostly road schemes, but there are three rail schemes (Crossrail in London, rail in and around Manchester and the East Coast Main Line at Doncaster, Peterborough and London) and one airport scheme - a third runway at Heathrow. All the schemes except those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be Planning Act projects, although some (e.g. Crossrail and improvements to the A14 near Cambridge) have been authorised or applied for already.
One of the other main business organisations, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) ('the voice of business') has not opined on the new regime since late February, when it expressed scepticism that the proposals in the Conservatives' planning 'green paper' would deliver the necessary infrastructure on time. It has previously welcomed the establishment of the IPC.
Finally, the Institute of Directors (IoD) ('the mark of a leader') - whose website looks as though it came from the same shop as the IPC - has also supported the retention of the IPC in its 'Business Manifesto for 2010', published in January.
Update 20 April: the IoD has now published a business manifesto that supports the retention of the IPC.
The IoD, CBI and BCC will no doubt all be analysing the three main parties' manifestos when they are published next week.