The Freight Transport Association has warmly welcomed the publication today (27 November) of the Government's proposals to reform the English planning system.
The proposals will see the introduction of an Infrastructure Planning Commission to decide on major developments, and National Policy Statements to set out the strategic needs of the country. In a change from the proposals previously consulted upon, rail projects will now be included in this.
Commenting on the proposals, FTA's Head of Rail Freight and Global Supply Chain Policy Christopher Snelling said 'This is an excellent set of proposals. For far too long, developments of national economic significance have had to go through the same planning system as a local housing project. The current inefficient and cumbersome planning system is a major reason why, for example, Britain lacks the major port capacity it requires. It is not about more things being approved – it is about making the system quicker and less expensive.
'The National Policy Statements will, for the first time, give developers of infrastructure a clear basis from which to plan investment. The Infrastructure Planning Commission should be an effective body for deciding on the appropriateness of individual developments. It will give a proper balance to local interests and the wider economic needs of the country.'
The Government has amended its proposals to include rail. Rail will now be covered under a National Policy Statement addressing national transport networks, and the construction of new railways and of rail freight terminals will be eligible for consideration by the IPC.
On this development, Snelling said, 'FTA had called for the inclusion of rail under the new planning system, as it is of vital significance to the national supply chain. This decision to include rail should help rail freight continue to grow and be more competitive with road, with all the environmental benefits that go with that.'