Kelly to advocate 'greener' planning


Kelly to advocate 'greener' planning
The government is set to announce new planning rules today which ministers will claim are needed to tackle climate change and cut costs for homeowners.

Under proposals to be outlined in a white paper, new measures are set to be introduced which will allow wind farm and nuclear power station developments to be approved more quickly.

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly is expected to tell parliament that the reforms to the country's cumbersome planning system are needed to fight global warming and secure future energy supplies which do not release harmful fossil fuels into the environment.

Proposals to scrap the need for property owners to secure planning permission for minor home improvement projects are also anticipated, with Ms Kelly having previously indicated that the change would make it easier for people to make use of roof-top wind turbines and solar panels in order to do their bit for the environment.

In a speech to the Green Alliance last month the communities secretary said that the local planning system should support attempts to tackle climate change "rather than acting as a barrier".

The government claims that under the present system homeowners face cumbersome and costly planning procedures, while the number of private planning applications has more than doubled since 1995 to almost 330,000 a year.

The shake-up of the planning system, which has not been reformed for decades, is also expected to include the establishment of an independent planning commission to take responsibility for approving major infrastructure projects.

Business leaders have welcomed the government's decision to overhaul the existing planning regime.

Director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Richard Lambert, said that reform was necessary in order to secure new energy projects needed to replace a third of the country's electricity generation by 2020, when ministers want more energy to come from renewable sources.

"Business is very pleased that the planning white paper is being published as there is an urgent need to reform the system if we want to be able to deliver the major infrastructure which the UK is crying out for, including tackling the imminent deficit in power generation," he said.

But Friends of the Earth (FoE) claimed that the plans would "give the green light" to major developments such as motorway and airport expansions and waste incinerator sites, which would actually increase carbon dioxide emissions.

"The planning white paper will give the green light to massive new developments while stripping away opportunities for affected communities or the wider public to input on the decisions," said FoE planning adviser Hugh Ellis.

"This is policy making at its worse - it will destroy local communities and exacerbate climate change," he added.

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