Sir Michael Pitt has been confirmed as chairman of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the new body being set up to accelerate the planning process for major infrastructure schemes such as new nuclear power stations.
Pitt was the government’s preferred candidate for the post, and his appointmemt has now been sanctioned by the Commons Communities and Local Government select committee.
“We are satisfied that Sir Michael Pitt has the professional competence and personal independence required for the post of Chair of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, and that he will be well-placed to lead the organisation charged with “protecting the public’s rights and interests” in respect of the development of major infrastructure projects,” said the committee.
“We therefore welcome his nomination and encourage the Secretary of State to make the appointment. We wish Sir Michael every success in his new post.”
Sir Michael Pitt trained as an engineer. His early experience, working for the civil service, private sector and local government, involved planning, designing and constructing transport infrastructure in this country and abroad. In 1987 he was appointed as Director of Property, Humberside County Council, then as Director of Technical
Services. In 1990, he became chief executive of Cheshire County Council, and in 1997 chief executive of Kent County Council, where he stayed until 2005. In 2005, he was requested by the Government to act as interim chief executive of Swindon Borough Council for a period of 12 months in order to help with its recovery following its classification as a failing council.
In 2006, he was appointed as chair of the Board of the South West Strategic Health Authority, responsible for the performance of hospital, mental health and primary care trusts in the region. In 2007, he was appointed to chair the year long independent review of last summer’s floods (the “Pitt Review”), leading an 18 strong team of specialists and experts. He is now working with the Government on implementation of the 92 recommendations of the review.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission was established under the Planning Act 2008. It is one of the key components of the new regime for consideration of applications for the development of major infrastructure, intended to be “more efficient, transparent and accessible” than the current system of public inquiries.
The Act defines certain projects as “nationally significant infrastructure projects”. Such projects are to be
considered not by the local planning authority, but by the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). The IPC will have the power to grant all the necessary consents to allow a project to proceed: the so-called “single consent regime”.
Pitt’s first key role will be to establish the IPC as a body, recruiting commissioners and producing advice and guidance for prospective applicants.