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Green paper to speed up major infrastructure projects

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MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE projects will be approved in principle by ministers under strict timetables, in government plans to be published in 10 days.

Streamlined planning procedures for schemes in the 'national interest' are expected to form a main plank of the government's green paper on planning.

The green paper, along with a consultation paper on infrastructure projects expected in January, will recommend that major projects are debated by both Houses of Parliament.

Expert advisers should be called in to assess technical submissions that usually consume swathes of public inquiry time.

The green paper will also recommend that inquiries follow strict timetables. Parties submitting evidence would be penalised for failing to meet deadlines.

Three further consultation papers, due out in January, will recommend that compensation for compulsory purchase be increased in line with other European Union countries. The UK currently only compensates for the market value of the property.

A national spatial strategy will be developed, giving a comprehensive picture of the UK's infrastructure. This will enable the government to develop an overview of what major infrastructure schemes it should prioritise and which schemes should be scrapped under the new regime. The current regional and fractured UK planning system makes it difficult to prioritise projects.

A clearer distinction between major and minor projects is proposed, enabling planning officers to prioritise resource allocation more effectively.

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