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Planning commission pressed on energy and roads

Highways and energy schemes are among the projects vying to be the first to come under the scrutiny of the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) when it launches next week, NCE has learnt.

The IPC, led by chairman Sir Michael Pitt, starts work on 1 October.

The new body will take over and consolidate the planning process for large infrastructure projects. Speaking to NCE this week, Pitt said he wanted to: “Start work as soon as possible.”

A chief executive has been appointed and is expected to be announced soon, in addition to deputy chairs and further commissioners. Around 35 commissioners are expected to be appointed.

NCE understands the promoters of road schemes, power stations, wind farms and an upgrade of the National Grid have already indicated they will be making submissions to the IPC.

IPC decisions will be based on National Policy Statements (NPS). Draft statements will be published shortly by the government for consultation.

The first will be six statements on energy, followed by statements on ports, transport networks and airports and finally statements on water supply, waste and hazardous waste.

The time taken to decide on major applications will be reduced to 35 weeks for large projects. Under current planning arrangements projects can take more than a decade to gain full planning permission.

Decisions made by the IPC must be enforced by local authorities and can be overturned only by judicial review.

However, hybrid bills, such as that used to enable the construction of Crossrail, may still be used under circumstances where the law needs to be changed to allow a project to work.

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