Government planning supremo Sir Michael Pitt this week told developers to stop “intimidating” his major infrastructure planning unit with huge documents from project promoters.
Pitt urged promoters to cut the scope of their planning applications and reduce the detail in their environment impact assessments (EIAs) before submitting them to the Planning Inspectorate’s National Infrastructure Directorate.
His call comes after electricity company EdF submitted a 36,000 page EIA as part of its planning application for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point.
“Is that proportionate?” said Pitt. “I think this is intimidating. It is for us and it certainly is for local authorities.”
Pitt suggested developers were being over-cautious to ensure their projects are not delayed by judicial reviews, as has happened to High Speed 2.
But he said this had to stop. “We can start streamlining. The biggest savings are around the environment side. It’s my view and it’s the government view.”
Pitt said project promoters could limit the amount of documentation by developing statements of common ground with the statutory consultees such as local authorities. Doing this would enable his inspectors to focus on “areas of difference” during the statutory six month assessment period, he added.