Top business groups have welcomed government plans to speed up the planning process for key infrastructure projects as a “major signal” on green growth.
Ministers want to overhaul the system and create a new fast-track route for major schemes, such as offshore wind farms, transport connections, waste facilities and nuclear power stations.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Significant infrastructure projects don’t just ensure people can get to work easily, do their recycling, and power their homes.
“They also create jobs, grow our economy, and help us become fit for the future.”
And the idea – now subject to a consultation until mid-September – has been broadly welcomed by business bodies.
James Watkins, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) policy lead, said: “We need to speed up planning processes to get the infrastructure we need, from secure energy grids to 5G.
“Britain cannot afford to be in the slow lane. For too long, major decisions on key projects including transport have taken years, whilst our international competitors rush ahead.”
While Jane Gratton, from the British Chambers of Commerce, said firms were put off the planning system by “long delays, complexity and uncertainty” leading to higher costs and lack of investment.
She told City A.M.: “We need a faster, streamlined system to deliver vital infrastructure the economy needs, enable local communities and businesses to prosper, and support the transition to net zero.”
And John Foster, interim policy director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) added: “With planning delays cited by a number of firms as a significant barrier to green investment, streamlining processes would represent a major signal of intent about the UK’s status as a leader in green growth.”
But he warned ministers should go further, stressing “bolder thinking” and as “fundamental reset” was needed for the UK to be a world leader in the built environment.
Housing secretary Michael Gove said reforms would be “vital” to deliver major infrastructure projects
It comes after he set out measures on Monday including on leasehold reform, simplifying planning procedures, expanding planning capacity, and regenerating and reviving inner cities.