The Freight Transport Association has welcomed proposals for an Independent Planning Commission which will result in a vastly improved process for the progress of major infrastructure projects including trunk roads and motorways, rail freight interchanges, access to ports and national distribution centres. FTA says that a dynamic 21st century economy requires a planning system which can look at a comprehensive national strategy, speeding up the delivery of essential transport infrastructure projects.
The proposals are contained in the new Planning White Paper published today (21 May).
FTA says that whilst local interests must always be properly and judiciously considered, the UK economy has had to bear the enormous and endless waste of money and efficiency resulting from years of under investment and planning delays on major projects. The proposed Independent Planning Commission contained in the White Paper would enable the creation of a national strategy freed up from the present paralysis in planning and is exactly what is wanted to speed up the availability of essential new transport facilities in the best interest of the overall national need.
FTA Chief Executive Richard Turner says, ‘Under the present planning arrangements it is an absolute miracle that we have been able to construct such invaluable assets like the M25 and the M40. Where would we be without them? Yet despite the absolutely essential need for these roads, they were not achieved without the most enormous difficulty, waste of time and vacillation resulting from dozens of endless local planning inquiries, dominated not by legitimate local issues but by the need for the road at all. That is no way to manage the construction of infrastructure in the national interest, which is so vital for both personal mobility and the needs of UK industry in delivering goods and services with economy, efficiency and with proper care for the environment and which is constantly snagged with congestion due to inadequate roads capacity.
‘It must be common sense for industry and others for ‘need’ to be established by government, leaving detail to be decided locally. Central government must be allowed to create and implement strategic infrastructure policies which provide an overall plan to support and deliver the economy.
‘As the user and the paymaster, industry should define the service outcomes it requires – journey time reliability, freight capacity, performance and safety levels etc – and then expect the government to deliver appropriate facilities to meet those needs. That is not presently the case. However, the new White Paper lays out that highly attractive prospect.’
The Freight Transport Association represents the interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA members operate over 200,000 goods vehicles – almost half the UK fleet. In addition they consign over 90 per cent of the freight moved by rail and over 70 per cent of sea and air freight.