This is entry number 258, published on 8 July 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime.

Today’s entry reports on the CBI view of infrastructure planning, debates on National Policy Statements and Localism Bill progress.

CBI on infrastructure planning and localism

John Cridland, Director-General of the CBI, spoke at an event at BDB this morning and supported calls for further streamlining of the infrastructure planning and authorisation process.  Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that the six energy National Policy Statements will be debated ond voted upon in the House of Commons on Monday 18 July.

John Cridland said that private companies had a reasonable amount of money to invest, but were not doing so because they lacked confidence, particularly in the energy sector.  He said that abolishing the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) had been fundamentally unhelpful, but that as long as the government stuck to its three-month decision-making period, the replacement regime was acceptably similar.  The CBI had shifted its sights from protecting the IPC regime (now largely achieved) to seeking to streamline it further, and supported the amendments to the Localism Bill to achieve that which I have mentioned previously.

Localism, on the other hand, was a major problem for economic growth.  The abolition of the regional tier of planning was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and the new homes bonus intended to replace it was not likely to act as an incentive where it was needed in the south east.  On the other hand, he was optimistic about the duty to co-operate (between local authorities on planning issues affecting more than one) and the emergence of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

National Policy Statement debate and vote

Yesterday in the usual Thursday 'business statement', the government announced the Parliamentary timetable for the remaining days before the Parliament breaks up for the summer.  As previously mentioned, 'Motions relating to National Policy Statements' will be debated on Monday 18 July.

There are eight NPSs in draft, but only the six energy ones are expected to be debated that day.  Since the government has yet to respond to the public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny of the other two, the Waste Water and Ports NPSs, they are unlikely to be involved.  It is expected that the government will formally 'designate' (i.e. adopt/finalise) the six energy NPSs the following day, which will amount to 617 days between first publication and designation.

Localism Bill latest

Also yesterday was the sixth day of the Committee Stage of the Localism Bill, and although their Lordships were expected to reach the infrastructure planning clauses of the Bill that day, they did not do so.  They have just finished with the first clause on planning - the abolition of regional strategies - which passed unamended after a lengthy debate.

The Lords is now a day behind the equivalent progress that the Commons made on the Bill despite having one fewer day timetabled.  Unless they speed up they will not complete the committee stage before the summer adjournment.

The infrastructure planning amendments are now not likely to be reached until next Thursday 14 July.  The Hansard report of yesterday's debate can be found here