The Department for Transport is launching today (4 December 2013) a public consultation on the government’s draft national policy statement for national networks (NN NPS) in England. I am laying the draft before the House and placing copies of the consultation in the House Library. The department is also publishing, in parallel, its appraisal of sustainability of the draft national policy statement, incorporating a strategic environmental assessment as well as an assessment of the NPS under the habitats and wild birds directive. Consultees will be able to comment on these if they wish.
The Planning Act 2008 introduced a new planning regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). These are infrastructure projects that support the country through the generation and distribution of energy, the disposal of waste and the transportation of goods and people. Such projects have the potential to affect a wide range of people and businesses, from those who will use them, to those who live or work close to proposed sites.
This NN NPS addresses a key concern of scheme developers and promoters by providing a clear articulation of the overall policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects on the national road and rail networks. It describes the need for development of these networks and government policy for addressing it, within the context of the government’s long term goals for sustainable transport.
It means that government policy on national network development is easily accessible in a single document. This will make it easier for decision makers, applicants and the wider public to understand government policy on the need for NSIPs and the way in which developments will be assessed. It provides the right balance between a well-connected and high performing road and rail network with sufficient capacity to meet the country’s long term needs, whilst protecting the environment and minimising social impacts. It demonstrates this government’s commitment to deliver the infrastructure and investment the economy needs for continued growth, making the planning system easier to navigate.
The public consultation being launched today (4 December 2013), invites views on the extent to which this national policy statement meets its aim of providing planning policy for decisions on the development of national networks. The consultation closes on 26 February 2014 but I encourage people to respond earlier where possible.
Under Section 9(7) of the Planning Act 2008 the department is required to stipulate the ‘relevant period’ in which, if either House makes a resolution, or a Committee of either House makes recommendations with regard to the proposal to designate an NPS, a statement will be laid in response. I hereby stipulate the relevant period as that beginning today and ending on 21 May 2014.