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The Planning Act 2008 (external link) was granted Royal Assent on 26 November 2008. The Act introduced a new stream-lined system for decisions on applications to build nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) in England and Wales, alongside further reforms to the town and country planning system and the introduction of a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
The new system for nationally significant infrastructure covers applications for major energy generation, railways, ports, major roads, airports and water and waste infrastructure. National policy will be set out by Ministers in a series of National Policy Statements (NPSs). The Act also imposes a new requirement on project promoters to consult affected parties and local communities prior to submitting an application.
The old planning process for considering these infrastructure applications was slow and complex with projects often needing multiple approvals. The new system is intended to make the process faster, fairer and easier for people to get involved.
A new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), has been established and will examine and decide applications, based on the policy need set out in NPSs. Since 1 March 2010 the new regime has been 'switched on' for the energy and transport sectors. A list of the projects the IPC expects to receive applications from, as well as more information on their role, is available from IPC (external link).
The Government published the first tranche of draft NPSs in November 2009, covering Energy (external link) and Ports (external link) and public consultation has now been completed. These NPSs will be finalised after consideration of the consultation responses and parliamentary scrutiny. Further NPSs will be published for consultation in due course covering National Networks (rail and major roads), Waste Water, Hazardous Waste, Water Supply and Airports.
The Government has published various guidance documents (available below) and secondary legislation (see external links on the right) relating to implementation of the new regime. This includes an impact assessment on the fee regulations which is included in the Explanatory Memorandum to the secondary legislation.
Housing and Planning Minister, John Healey, said:
"If we are to be competitive in the global economy and have a good quality of life, it is clear we need a better system for planning and building the infrastructure the country needs. The IPC will be a faster and fairer system that is important for delivering these improvements, and with up to £50bn worth of investment in the pipeline, is vital to help drive economic growth and recovery. It will also help meet our targets towards becoming a low carbon country, with a new generation of investments essential to the future of the country."
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