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Budget 2012: Planning shake-up next week

A radical shakeup of planning laws will take place next week after the chancellor pledged in the Budget to publish the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) next Tuesday.

George Osborne said: “The new policy comes into effect when the NPPF is published next Tuesday. This is the biggest reduction in business red tape ever undertaken.”

The Government confirmed that the planning framework, which will replace more than 1,200 pages of planning guidance with a 52-page document, would include a “powerful presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

Both the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and the Environmental Services Association told MRW last year that the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) could hamper construction of large waste management infrastructure as it did not make explicit provisions for waste projects.

ESA director of policy Matthew Farrow said immediately after today’s Budget: “The chancellor’s emphasis on the role of infrastructure investment in driving growth and jobs was welcome, as the waste and resources industry has the potential to invest over £10bn in new infrastructure over the coming years.

“But we would have liked to see specific ‘green infrastructure allowances’ to incentivise investment in the sector as the loss of industrial building allowances has made some potential waste management investment less economically viable.”

However, environmental campaigners also raised concerns about the lack of waste policy in the NPPF.

UK Without Incineration campaigner Shlomo Dowen said: “The draft NPPF failed to ensure that waste incinerators are not imposed on communities that do not want them and fails to give communities recourse to a public inquiry via an automatic right of appeal.”

He added that the new rules were likely to lead to more legal action.

A spokesman for campaign group Friends of the Earth said: “Trashing planning rules will do nothing to develop a fair and resilient economy - we need the right kind of development in the right place, with investment in clean energy and warm, affordable homes.

“Osborne says new planning rules will protect our most precious environments but unless they address the environmental challenges we all face, ministers will pave the way for a development free-for-all that will cost us all a fortune in the long run.”

The Government also said in the Budget it would bring forward legislation to “adjust the scope of Special Parliamentary Procedure”, which requires major infrastructure developments that have been given planning consent to also go before Parliament for approval.

Covanta’s planned EfW facility in Rookery Pit South has recently been delayed by this process.

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