This is entry number 22 of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) madefurther announcements about the appointment of commissioners to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) yesterday. Today’s entry summarises the situation so far.
From 1 October, the IPC will start giving advice to potential applicants for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) – those large projects set out in the Planning Act 2008 that are subject to the new regime, including nuclear power stations, airport runways, and larger incinerators and windfarms. 16 categories of project are covered. See this earlier entry for a summary of the new system.
From 1 March 2010, applications for transport and energy projects (12 of the 16 types) will have to be made to the IPC. Once the corresponding National Policy Statement (NPS) is in place, the IPC will actually decide the applications, but until then it will report to the Secretary of State.
Yesterday’s announcement brings the number of commissioners that have been appointed so far to six.
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The Chair of the IPC is Sir Michael Pitt. Following a ‘confirmation hearing’ before the Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee on 16 March, his appointment was confirmed on 30 March.
The Deputy Chairs of the IPC are Pauleen Lane and Robert Upton. Following their confirmation hearing on 20 July, their appointments were both confirmed yesterday.
Three further commissioners were announced yesterday as Jan Bessell, Glyn Roberts and Paul Hudson. Jan Bessell is a partner at law firm Dickinson Dees, Glyn Roberts is Technical Director for North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership and Paul Hudson is Director of Thames Gateway in the Homes and Communities Agency. It appears that only the Chair and Deputy Chairs will have to undergo confirmation hearings.
The DCLG press release says that the three latest appointment ‘will act as decision-makers, either singly or sitting on panels on nationally significant infrastructure projects.’ That cannot be quite right. When an application is made, the IPC decides whether it should be considered by a single commissioner or a panel of three or more commissioners. If considered by a panel, and the relevant NPS is in place, the panel makes the decision. If consider by a single commissioner, however, even if the NPS is in place, the single commissioner does not make the decision – he or she produces a report for a ‘Council’ of the IPC to consider, and it is the Council that makes the decision. Sir Mike has announced that there will be one Council for each area of energy, transport and water/waste. The bottom line is that a single commissioner cannot make a decision by him- or herself.