On 7th July I attended NCE’s New Nuclear conference in Birmingham. It was a really good event with lots of high profile speakers and delegates. A lot of attendees were keen to hear from the Chairman of the Infrastructure Planning Committee Sir Michael Pitt. After all it was only at the end of June that decentralisation Minister Greg Clark announced that the IPC would be abolished because it was an unelected body making the planning decisions. However it appears that despite the strong language the IPC will carry on – just in a different form within the Planning Inspectorate, and only when a new Planning Act has been ratified. This will obviously take some time.
Sir Michael reassured the delegates that the IPC would continue to make its planning decisions within 12 months of accepting a project, and said that in future it would stick to the same timescale. Ministers will make the final decision but their findings will be based on a report and recommendation from the IPC which is going to be called the Major Infrastructure Planning Unit. Which Ministers will decide is unclear. Industry insiders say they prefer Ministers in the relevant departments so for example that the Secretary of State for Energy makes decisions on projects such as new nuclear power plants, however it could yet remain with the Department of Communities and Local Government. DCLG says the review is ongoing and no decisions have yet been made.
NCE has run a story on this in its news section but a longer analysis will appear on 5th August.