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IPC to start work in October

The Infrastructure Planning Committee (IPC) will begin work in October, and begin taking transport and energy applications then in March 2010, according to communities secretary John Healey today.

John Healey said: “The IPC is critical to delivering a fairer, faster planning system that will enable us to cut the time taken to make decisions from up to seven years down to under a year. It will also give the public more opportunities for their opinions to be heard.

“Businesses have told us they want certainty and predictability about how the new regime will work. Today I am confirming the dates from when the IPC will consider applications from each sector.

“This timetable is being set now to ensure developers will be talking to the IPC before it starts taking applications. I am also setting out rules for how the IPC will work, what developers will need to do and how members of the public and interested parties can get involved.

“The IPC will help us deliver a new generation of renewable energy infrastructure sources such as wind power to reduce our fossil fuel addiction and meet our ambitious zero carbon goals. Reforming the system means many low carbon power sources will now get faster approval, and the country could save £300M a year.”

The IPC aims to reduce the planning process for large infrastructure projects to less than a year.

One of the first tests will be in energy, to meet the strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2080, announced tomorrow. Other schemes could be new high speed rail lines north of London.

From October, it will be advising promoters and other interested parties on the new process, for example ensuring that they consult local communities effectively and prepare their applications to a high standard.

From March 2010, it will then start considering applications; when then expect the IPC to be carrying out its’ first examinations over that summer.

The IPC will look at submissions for large infrastructure projects, and make independent decisions based on National Policy Statements agreed in the House of Commons.

Where a relevant NPS is in place, it will then take the decision. If the relevant NPS has yet to be designated, the IPC will instead report with a recommendation to ministers.

Two preferred candidates to support the IPC chair, Sir Michael Pitt, were also announced today:

  • Dr Pauleen Lane, CBE, an elected member of Trafford MBC, a Board Member of the Coal Authority and a member of the Tenants Services Authority;
  • Robert Upton, CBE, currently Secretary-General of the Royal Town Planning Institute

Pitt said: “I am delighted to have people of the calibre of Pauleen and Robert on board, who were selected from a very impressive field. Together with today’s announcement that the IPC will start to receive applications from March, this is a big vote of confidence in the new IPC.”

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee will hold a pre-appointment hearing and to report on their suitability for these post.

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