Conservative plans to change the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) would be: “very damaging” to the national interest, according to the government this week.
Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, energy minister Lord Hunt confirmed that energy National Policy Statements are to be published: “in the not too distant future” but warned against any Conservative government tampering with the new IPC, which will open its doors on October 1 (see news last week).
The IPC will be based in Bristol under Sir Michael Pitt and will make decisions on projects of national importance, guided by National Policy Statements (NPS) approved by parliament.
Hunt said scrapping the IPC would be: “Very damaging. We have a problem with our planning system and this has led to a lack of confidence in developers and business.
“The IPC is more natural way to use the planning process – it is quicker, transparent and scrapping it is an example of the Conservatives’ scrapping something that is in the national interest.”
“We are working really hard to get statements published in draft as soon as possible. We have to get it right and a little more time is worth it.”
Nuclear lobbyist Lord O’Neill said he was: “Disappointed we have no National Policy Statement [for nuclear power],” but agreed that the new planning system would be an improvement.
O’Neill said the conservatives could introduce legislation to retard the progress of the IPC.
“The conservatives want the last word for an elected official. If you leave the last word for an elected official, it is still within the political maelstrom. Decisions can be delayed and we need the NPS to lay down the requirement.