Planning Bill

Lord Soley

There was an important debate on the Planning Bill last Thursday. The Conservatives had put down an amendment that would have taken the final say away from the Infrastructure Planning Commission – a proposed new independent body that would deal with major infrastructure programmes. Instead the final say would be with the government and Parliament.

I have argued for some years that planning is as much part of the infrastructure of a country as roads, rail water etc. I gave the example of the channel tunnel rail link in the UK which opened ten years after the French opened their part of the track. Britain lags behind Europe on infrastructure. The planning system and lack of regional government largely explains our tardy performance.

 The argument is hard fought. Opponents argue that it takes away local decision making on contentious issues like rail or airport expansion and, more critically now, wind farms and other energy saving projects.

 The amendment was defeated but for those of you who are interested in planning and the country’s infrastructure the whole debate makes for interesting reading.

3 comments for “Planning Bill

  1. Bedd Gelert
    10/11/2008 at 10:14 pm

    “Britain lags behind Europe on infrastructure. ”

    Yes indeed – that 3rd runway for Heathrow is taking ages…

  2. Bedd Gelert
    11/11/2008 at 4:53 pm

    The question to be debated is this.

    If we need a Severn Barrage, to combat climate change, to what extent should the views of locals, and environmentalists who are worried about the local damage to the environment, hold sway over the ‘greater good’ of ‘low-carbon energy’ ??

    Can they be ‘sacrificial lambs’, because you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs ?!

    Or is it incumbent on the Government to carry the burden of proof and win over hearts and minds to the decision, on the basis that if you cannot convince the locals of the validity of the ‘greater good’ argument, it is insufficiently persuasive ??

    I am all for having more nuclear power stations to address future energy needs. I think wind farms can help, although they will never be more than a ‘top-up’ solution. But I’m concerned that a planning system where ‘consultation’ means asking people for their views on a decision which has already been made is inimical to democracy.

    But then, if my approach was taken, we will end up like the Maldives and have to ‘relocate’ to India or Australia. Thoughts ?

  3. Bedd Gelert
    12/11/2008 at 7:27 pm

    Why has my earlier blog about the Severn Barrage not been posted ??

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