This is entry number 12 of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog.

This blog entry is the first of two looking at whether Heathrow Terminal 5 really needed the number of different applications that were made for it and whether the new system will reduce the number, potentially being the one stop shop the government hopes it to be.

Heathrow Terminal 5 is held up as the principal example of why the authorisation of major infrastructure needed a radical overhaul. Two main reasons are given: the promoters had to spend a lot of time convincing the Inspector that a new terminal was needed, and the whole authorisation process took an extremely long time, due in large part to its complexity.

The introduction of National Policy Statements is designed to address the first issue. Promoters – and opponents – can take it as read before an application is made that infrastructure is needed, if it is listed in the relevant NPS. This should result in greater certainty for all involved. Nearly a quarter of the T5 inquiry (23.4%) was taken up with debates over the economic and aviation case.

The authorisation process took seven years, and as part of that, the public inquiry took nearly four. The public inquiry is often referred to as considering 37 applications under five different authorisation regimes. But what were those applications, and would they be reduced under the new system? Your intrepid blogger has obtained the Inspector’s Report and analysed the applications that were made.

In summary,

most of the applications were made late,
they were made under eight different Acts,
to eight different decision-makers and
by five different applicants.

The second and third of these will more or less be cured by the new regime, but will the first and last? Friday’s blog entry will consider these four points in more detail.