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Outdated planning system thwarts light rail schemes

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NEW LIGHT rail projects are being kept out of the integrated transport debate by the UK's out-dated planning approval system, a Government select committee heard last week.

Evidence submitted by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) warned that before congestion and workplace charging schemes were introduced, a faster and more open system of planning inquiry for light rail was vital.

CPT chairman Tony De Pledge told the environment, transport and regional affairs committee: 'Civil servants are keeping decisions to themselves until the last moment. It is difficult for private sector partners to get a clear indication (of whether schemes would be approved).'

The CPT's written evidence states: 'Substantial amounts of time and money have to be spent in order to submit a proposal to Government for funding without any indication as to whether the scheme will eventually go ahead. It would be better if a decision in principle could be made to fund a scheme ... before some of the most detailed design work.'

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