Planning inquiries for large-scale electricity projects are expected to be overhauled by new rules outlined by UK secretary of state for trade and industry Alistair Darling.
Delays, costs and uncertainty have too frequently held back major projects, and the UK government hopes that the changes being brought in will tackle these problems. The changes are designed to bring about greater efficiency and greater transparency, and prove to be good for the economy, UK energy security and public engagement.
The reforms, which have been set out in the government’s energy review, will streamline the planning system. Measures will include setting specific timeframes for local authorities to object, giving power to inspectors to insist only summaries of evidence be read out to cut inquiry length, and holding inquiries in concurrent sessions with a number of inspectors.
The current system isn’t good enough, Mr Darling said. Too often delays and high costs dominate. On average, when a planning inquiry is involved, large electricity projects take at least three years to be approved. That isn’t good enough for our energy needs. I want to change that.
He also said that the measures being introduced are designed to speed up the process, making it faster and easier for participants.