The coalition Government has already begun to implement its localism and decentralisation agenda with the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies and has now published a full timetable of proposed reforms. The main instrument of reform will be the Localism Bill, which the timetable anticipates will receive Royal Assent by November 2011.

Although the Localism Bill will contain provisions for the establishment of a new Major Infrastructure Projects Unit, this new body is not expected to be established before April 2012. The Infrastructure Planning Commission will continue to function in the interim, with the coalition Government already committed to retaining a fast-track process for major projects whereby applications will be referred to the Secretary of State once the IPC process has been completed.

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark offered comment on the IPC reforms, stating “The previous system lacked any democratic legitimacy by giving decision-making power away to a distant quango on issues crucial to every community in the country. The coalition is remedying those deficiencies by putting in place a new fast-track process where the people’s elected representatives have responsibility for the final decisions about Britain’s future instead of unelected commissioners.”