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Faster planning process bypasses most road jobs say contractors

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS to speed up the planning process for road projects will fail because new planning proposals only apply to schemes over 30km long, contractors warned this week.

They fear the proposals will have no impact on the majority of road schemes which are much smaller.

Contractors voiced their fears in response to government Green Paper proposals to allow parliament to approve major schemes, instead of local planning inquiries.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Construction Confederation are worried that the proposals will hamper efforts to meet targets set out in the government's 10 year transport plan.

The government's target is to widen 576km of motorway and build 30 bypasses by 2010.

'Proposed changes to the planning process wouldn't actually help deliver road targets because there is an annex in the Green Paper that says that dual carriageways on greenfield sites have to be more than 30km (before the proposals apply), ' said CECA chief economist Jim Turner.

Planning minister Lord Faulkner is expected to make a statement on the government's intentions before parliament goes into recess in mid-June. It is hoped that a bill will go through in the next parliament.

The 30km rule adds to concerns already expressed by CECA that road schemes are coming through too slowly.

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