At the end of last year, a new association to promote and share best practice in the planning and authorisation of nationally signficant infrastructure was launched, to be known as the National Infrastructure Planning Association (NIPA - I think it is to be 'nippa' rather than 'neepa' or 'nyepa').

Click here to see logo

The administration is now all in place and applications for membership are now able to be made. Membership costs £75 per year, and is open to anyone with a professional or lay interest in planning and authorisation of infrastructure. It is aimed at all sectors involved in this area: promoters of projects, regulatory organisations, people affected by projects and organisations representing them, and consultants advising all of these. You can print off a membership form here

NIPA is chaired by Steve Norris, former MP and transport minister. Its aims and objectives are stated on its website (www.nipa.org.uk) to:

  • advocate and promote an effective, accountable, efficient, fair and inclusive system for the planning and authorisation of national infrastructure projects;
  • act as a single voice for those involved in national infrastructure planning and authorisation;
  • develop, share and champion best practice in national infrastructure planning;
  • participate in debate on the practice and future of national infrastructure planning;
  • act as a consultee on proposed changes to national infrastructure planning and authorisation regimes and other relevant consultations;
  • improve knowledge, skills, understanding and engagement and so provide education on national infrastructure planning; and
  • help the Planning Act regime, as amended by the Localism Bill, to establish itself successfully.

One of its first tasks will be to seize the opportunity presented by the Localism Bill to make further improvements to the regime introduced by the Planning Act 2008. Present awareness that this is a once-in-a-Parliament chance to affect the regime is low, even amongst those engaged in projects, and it is to be hoped that the existence of NIPA will address this.

Another likely initiative is an information-gathering exercise on experiences of infrastructure planning and authorisation by means of a questionnaire among members.

I've already filled in my membership form, and I hope that many followers of this blog will do the same. This is a great chance to give a voice to the planning and authorisation of the nationally significant infrastructure that is so desperately needed. At the moment the first two google results for NIPA are the Northern Ireland Photographic Association and a Thai restaurant in London, with the new association coming in tenth - as well as its achievements, the rise of its ranking will be a measure of its success.