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Localism Act removes 'democratic deficit' in planning, says Pitt

The new Localism Act has removed the “democratic deficit” in the planning process, Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) chairman Sir Michael Pitt said today.

Pitt said that one of the Act’s changes, which will see relevant secretaries of state making the final decision on major infrastructure schemes and not just the IPC, would satisfy critics of the previous process for being undemocratic because unelected officials were in charge of the decision.

Addressing a question about whether it was a mistake to introduce politics into a fact-based decision making process, he added that he had been reassured that secretaries of state would croadly support IPC recommendations.

“There is no doubt, if you read the [recommendation] on Rookery South [the first project to come through the IPC], it is cold and professional, it is evidence based,” he said. “I really, really hope that ministers will respect that, and endorse it. They are saying they will.”

Pitt was speaking at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum in London.

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