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Cameron would axe Infrastructure Planning Commission

The Conservatives would abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), established under powers set out in the Planning Act to decide which large infrastructure projects of national importance should go ahead.

Instead, the Conservatives have opted to shake-up local government in proposals set out in a green paper, published today.

The proposals are likely to draw opposition from bodies like the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and ICE, who welcomed the IPC as a means of cutting through long-winded public inquiries.

The commission is due to be assembled later this year, and then begin operating in the summer of 2010. It would select projects to fit National Policy Statements, and push them through a streamlined planning process, likely to take one year.

The planning inquiry to build Heathrow's Terminal 5 famously took 8 years.

The Conservatives say the IPC would be replaced by specially streamlined public inquiries focusing on material issues rather than matters of principle, and would therefore also work quickly.

Cameron said: "By giving power and financial incentives to local authorities to foster growth, we can start to move towards a national economy that is built from strong, vibrant, local economies – an economy that is far less vulnerable to global shocks or the failures of a few dominant industries."

In addition they would retain the National Policy Statements which are to stand alongside IPCs as a guiding framework.

"But the statements would be subject to parliamentary approval and debate," say the Tories in the paper: Control-Shift Returning - powers to local authorities other planning powers would be devolved back to local authorities. Regional government's planning and housing powers and the Government Office for London would be abolished, and Regional Development Agencies stripped of their powers.

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