Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Planning still a muddle

Growth of the UK's infrastructure is being severely held back by a lack of long term planning and red tape, according to this year's State of the Nation report.

In energy in particular, the planning system comes under fire for holding up the construction of much needed new facilities.

And State of the Nation welcomes the government's acknowledgement in its recent Energy Review that simpler planning and regulatory processes are needed.

If the approach suggested in the review gets the nod in next year's Energy White Paper, then one change to the planning laws is likely to be the acceptance of what is known as pre-licensing. This would allow off the shelf proven designs to be accepted as safe in at public inquiry.

Speeding up the delivery of energy infrastructure is vital to the long term stability of Britain's energy supply.

The report says that such stability, would 'encourage market-based business solutions' to a deepening energy crisis.

Writing for NCE in July, former environment minister Elliot Morley identified planning as the main concern that links everybody in the construction chain (NCE 20 July). He said that it was important that the system be speeded up, and that the government was reviewing planning policy. He suggested spatial planning as the way forward, a sentiment echoed in State of the Nation.

Nowhere is the need for a holistic approach to planning more pressing than in water and wastewater.

The south east is already short of water, yet the government is planning to build 40,000 more homes in the region each year. For this to be sustainable, the report states that 'in-depth planning of the water and wastewater infrastructure is needed now to service the huge additional demand'.

Joined-up thinking is also called for in the development of the rail network. The ICE backs an integrated transport strategy along the lines of the Republic of Ireland's Transport 21, which sets out the country's transport strategy between 2006 and 2015.

The lack of integration in transport policy is likely to be addressed once government advisor Rod Eddington has completed his report on transport needs beyond 2015.

This report is expected to focus on how transport impacts on the economy, with the economic value of good transport links justifying a reduction in the length of time it takes to get projects through planning.

But integrated transport planning is just one part of a much needed wider integration of infrastructure issues, says ICE waste management board member Bob Lisney.

'We would like to see a cross-departmental government body set up to look across the range of sectors and address how infrastructure could be better delivered, ' says Lisney.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.