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Pitt to lead IPC

Sir Michael Pitt has been named as the government’s choice as chair of the Infrastructure Planning Committee, which will be based in Bristol, by housing minister Margaret Beckett today.

Pitt, a civil engineer, was commissioned by the government to write the definitive “Lessons Learned” report into how the country dealt with the extensive floods of the summer of 2007.

He would lead the independent panel that makes final decisions on what infrastructure of national importance should be built, set-up in the Planning Act 2008.

Margaret Beckett said: “The Infrastructure Planning Commission will have a vital role to play in creating a faster and fairer process for taking the big decisions that affect our national infrastructure, and the economy as a whole.

“I believe Sir Michael has first-class credentials for this important job and has the wide range of experience needed to lead the Commission at this challenging time for the organisation.”

Sir Michael Pitt said: “This is an exciting opportunity. I am looking forward to assembling the team and working closely with all concerned in order to establish the Commission’s new role in a 21st Century planning process.”

ICE Director General Tom Foulkes said: “The IPC will be essential to deliver the infrastructure the UK needs to maintain competitiveness and secure quality of life – whilst ensuring a low-carbon approach – and Sir Michael is the perfect choice to lead the organisation towards achieving those goals.

“There are a number of key projects which the IPC will be considering, such as a high speed rail network, a next generation nuclear programme, and the massive roll out of renewable electricity specified in the recent renewables strategy.

“Civil engineers will be integral in delivering this country’s infrastructure needs and it is therefore great to see one being recommended for Chair,” he said.

Pitt’s role is subject to approval by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, which will will hold a pre-appointment hearing and report on his suitability for the post.

The Committee will be holding a pre-appointment hearing with Sir Michael Pitt on Monday 16 March 2009.

The evidence session will be to examine Pitt’s professional competence and personal independence. The Committee may also be expected to question Sir Michael on his plans for the establishment and future direction of the IPC.

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