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Call to clarify policy statements’ text

Chairman of the newly-created Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) Sir Michael Pitt has called for National Policy Statements to be urgently tightened up to avoid confusion.

From 1 March planning decisions for major infrastructure projects will be made by the IPC. It will be informed by policy guidelines set out in the statements.

Pitt told the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee of MPs last week that the statements were “fit for purpose” but that improvements were needed.

“There are many improvements that we are recommending that could be made to the narrative,” he said.

“We need to look at drafting improvements and consistency of wording. Also there is a need to draw out in crisp comments the policy, which will be crucial to the work of commissioners,” he said.

“We need to look at drafting improvements and consistency of wording.”

Sir Michael Pitt

Last month professor Deiter Helm was highly critical of the wording of NPSs (NCE 28 January). Helm slammed the energy policy statement as “incoherent, badly written” and added that “some of the English was simply wrong”.

Pitt also sought to reassure green groups that climate change targets would be addressed. They had expressed concern that the targets were not attached to the decisions of the IPC (NCE 21 January).

Pitt said the Committee of Climate Change (CCC) may decide to vary its advice to meet government emission reduction targets.

Pitt said a series of identical submissions may go to the IPC, but as the CCC advice may change, so some of the submissions could be unsuccessful.

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