Planning Act Blog 161: Infrastructure Planning Commission has 50 Projects on its Books as Highways Slip

This is entry number 161, first published on 7 September 2010, of a blog on the implementation of the Planning Act 2008. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.

Today's entry reports on the IPC reaching a milestone of 50 projects that have been notified to it. The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is the body that is charged with examining, and potentially deciding, applications for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs), until it is replaced by the Major Infrastructure Projects Unit in April 2012. Applications for energy and transport projects above a certain size have had to be made to the IPC since 1 March, but to date only two such applications have been made, both in early August, only one of which has been accepted for examination. Nevertheless, given the amount of pre-application work that promoters need to do that will involve the IPC, it has been maintaining a databse of projects notified to it and which are at various stages of development. Last week, the project list hit 50 entries for the first time, which is a significant milestone and also a convenient number to perform a little statistical analysis upon. There are 16 types of NSIP covered by the Planning Act. A huge 31 or 62% of the projects are of one type: electricity generating stations of one sort or another. Windfarms make up more than half of these projects, with more offshore than onshore. Second comes electric lines (i.e. pylons), with six projects or 12%, most of which are of course to connect the first type to the grid. Next come highway projects (i.e. motorway or trunk road alterations) with 5 or 10%, the highest transport category. The only project that is neither energy nor transport is the Thames Tunnel, which is a special case since (a) it doesn't fit within any of the existing waste/water categories and has been added as a one-off by the government, and (b) the regime for normal waste/water projects has not been 'switched on' yet and is expected in two phases in 2011 and 2012. Incidentally, today the Environment Secretary has confirmed that the new government supports this project and will still use the Planning Act regime for it.

The IPC has also started giving reference numbers to each project, consisting of two letters and six digits. I will now unnecessarily analyse how these are derived. Not unlike the codes I had used for the National...

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