Thursday, December 07, 2006

Planning overhaul would an improvement for the environment

The Barker Review, by Bank of England policymaker Kate Barker on planning regulations for England, has put sustainability at the heart of the planning system, identifying planning as playing a vital role in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Kate Barker said rooftop wind turbines to cut carbon dioxide emissions should not be hindered by planning laws, and planning permission should take account of future flooding from climate change.

Planning applications should be approved unless there were strong reasons against them - streamlining the planning process could save businesses and local authorities hundreds of millions of pounds. The Review argues that "Statements of Strategic Objectives" should be drawn up for energy, transport, waste proposals and strategic water proposals (such as new reservoirs).

These should be given locations or areas where they might be built, using the term "spatially specific", "to give greater certainty and reduce the time taken at inquiry discussing alternative sites. Regional Spatial Strategies and local plans should reflect these national Statements and indicate, in particular, where regional facilities are needed."

The British Wind Energy Association welcomed the proposal as it would substantially reduce the waiting time for approval, currently an average of 15 months. The Review called for:
• a rapid increase in the turnaround of planning decisions
• an increase in planning resources to reflect changing priorities
• ring-fencing business rates for local communities
• permitted development rights for micro-wind installations.

The Review will now be considered by the Treasury which said that "in the context of the increased competitive climate caused by globalization the Government is committed to further reform, to ensure that planning delivers the development that England needs."

> Barker Review

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