Since receiving Royal Assent in November 2008, timetables to implement the changes under the new Planning Act have been gradually introduced. In an attempt to improve UK infrastructure and provide transparency, a new regime is being created.
The Act introduced a single consent regime for major infrastructure projects, replacing cumbersome pre-existing regimes. A new system to approve Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (“NSIPs”) will see the establishment of an independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (“IPC”). The IPC will consider and grant a Development Consent Order (“DCO”) that will authorise the development of a NSIP.
The IPC will consist of a Chairman, two vice-Chairmen and a panel of Commissioners. The Commissioners will be experts within related fields. The IPC will play a crucial role in the new system by providing advice for an applicant of a DCO and deciding whether the application should be dealt with by a single commissioner or by way of panel.
Part 2 of the Act also introduces a new concept – National Policy Statements (“NPS”). An NPS is a statement by the Secretary of State setting out Government Policy in relation to one or more specific descriptions of development in the fields of energy, transport, water and waste. The NPS must be on the basis of a public consultation, with regard to responses to such consultation and hold prime the concept of sustainable development. Undoubtedly, the decision of a NPS may be contested. A challenge to a NPS must be brought within six weeks, and in accordance with judicial review procedure, to allow for unmeritorious claims to be filtered out by way of a preliminary permission stage.
The Tories have stated that should they win the next general Election they will scrap the IPC.