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.