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Planning White Paper (‘Planning Disaster’)

12th September, 2007

The government is proposing important changes to the planning system for ‘Major Infrastructure Projects’ (MIPs). The AEF has responded to the consultation.

New airport runways are classed as MIPs, as are any airport expansions of more than 5 million passengers per year. They would be processed by a different planning scheme, involving National Policy Statements and an Infrastructure Planning Commission.

This is of real concern to any community threatened by huge new developments, so it is very relevant for those living near, or affected by, airports and their growth.

The key issue is that objectors will not be able to argue at a public inquiry against or in favour of a scheme on strategic grounds, for example national policy, economic justification or climate change. CPRE (Campaign for Preservation of Rural England) produced a short summary – see earlier news item (16/7/07).

AEF has responded to the consultation.      

An important new issue, identified by our planning consultant, is that if the Government does press ahead with the reforms proposed in the Planning White Paper, then the Air Transport White Paper would have to be re-written in order to constitute a National Policy Statement.  The reasons are somewhat technical, but centre around the fact the Aviation White Paper did not include any ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ of its proposals and nor did it have parliamentary scrutiny.  The AEF response includes a legal opinion on the matter.