The UK Government has gone on to set a novel cross-departmental plan so as to deliver infrastructure more rapidly. Apparently, the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project- NSIP action plan looks to streamline the process when it comes to planning for schemes related to offshore wind farms, new transport links, and waste water management facilities.
There was a 65% surge in the time that took for NSIP between 2012 and 2021 which happens to go through a varied planning process to conventional infra projects so as to be awarded development consent orders up to 4.2 years from 2.6 years.
Leveling Up Secretary Michael Gove, as well as Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, and Therese Coffet from Environment, stated in a joint foreword pertaining to the action plan that the present NSIP consulting process had gone on to serve the UK well, and that too for more than a decade. That said, since the demands on the systems are changing, the speed of the present process has slowed.
There has been an increase in the number of complex cases coming into the system, and the policy changes are more regular in their response to the world that’s changing. The action plan by the government includes new powers given by the secretaries of state in order to set shorter timelines for some projects and also a novel pilot fast-track process. It is well to be noted that the environmental regulations that are around the new development shall be reformed and a fresh outcomes report shall be introduced with the focus on reducing bureaucracy.
As per the action plan, the Planning and Performance Agreement usage shall be revised, and there is going to be a strengthening of community engagement. Lee Rowley, the local government minister, said that the plan put forth the commitment of the UK government to make sure that the planning system supports them so as to improve energy security and at the same time deliver major transport links as well as essential facilities that the UK needs to thrive.
It has been put straight that the Department of Food & Rural Affairs, the Department of Transport, as well as the Department for Energy Security and New Zero, all have to take ownership of the NSIPs, and in order to make sure that this takes place, they are shortly going to make their own individual announcements through updating their policy statements when it comes to infrastructure. The National Infrastructure Commission has been urged by the government to share recommendations on how the renewal process of NPSs can be enhanced. One of the parliamentary agents at a law firm opines that the proposals for the action plan were mostly a set of existing government announcements. According to him, although the devil is going to be in the details, the proposed new national policy statement in the case of nuclear that also includes modular reactors will go on to provide confidence to those that are in that sector.
From all this, it is indeed clear that the Government has an intent to speed-up end-to-end delivery and it is going to be important that proportionality as well as reduced timescales do not essentially mean burden at an early stage.