Planning policies for major rail and road infrastructure examined in new Transport Committee inquiry

The House of Commons Transport Committee is launching a new inquiry into the Government’s proposals to revise the National Networks National Policy Statement.  

Secretaries of State for Transport use regulations contained in the Statement when deciding planning applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects for rail and road. 

The current NNNPS was published in 2015 and ministers are now looking to introduce a new Statement that will take into account aspirations to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.  

The Government’s draft revised NNNPS was published on 14 March and can be viewed here. Under provisions of the Planning Act, the Committee is required to produce a report on the draft Statement by 20 October 2023. 

Projections of future demand for rail travel and road usage, both for passengers and freight, are considered in the new draft. 

The cross-party Committee will also examine how the NNNPS could support economic growth in different regions. 

The draft revised NNNPS was published alongside a Habitats Regulation Assessment and an Appraisal of Sustainability. They are designed to help assess social, economic and environmental effects of new regulations in the NNNPS, and describe actions that could be taken to reduce those effects. 

The Committee says revising the NNNPS should also provide a greater degree of legal certainty for the Government when making decisions on whether to approve new infrastructure projects. 

As well as providing a regulatory framework through which Transport Secretaries can decide whether to approve or block new planning applications, the NNNPS also acts as guidance that can help applicants put forward plans that are likely to comply with regulations and be granted planning consent. 

Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart said: “The NNNPS is hugely important to deciding the shape of our country’s rail and road infrastructure for years to come, and will have big implications for efforts to reach net zero and connecting towns and cities. It will also be decisive when it comes balancing the needs of local communities, industry and ecosystems. 

“We welcome moves to update the Statement. My Committee will now take a nuanced and detailed look at the Government’s draft Statement and mark its homework carefully.” 

(Picture – Yay Images)


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