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Infrastructure body urges clarity on its powers

Published: Thursday, 15th September 2016

The National Infrastructure Commission calls for MPs to clarify its position after the latest planning legislation omits provisions to put it on a statutory footing…

The National Infrastructure Commission has urged ministers to clarify how its independence and powers will be guaranteed following the surprise move to drop such measures from the latest planning-related legislation, the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, just published.

The government had been expected to bring forward a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill which with provisions to put the Commission on a statutory footing.

That absence from the latest planning legislation was not the only surprise, however. The new administration has put moves to sell-off the Land Registry on hold. That was also anticipated to be included in the legislation.

A spokesperson for the NIC said: "This government has made it clear that it strongly supports the NIC and its ongoing work.

“The NIC was established to transform the way we plan and deliver major infrastructure projects in this country by providing clear and independent strategic advice to government. 

“Through the Commission's first three reports, the NIC has already made major contributions ‎towards transport improvements in the North of England, Crossrail 2 in London, and a Smart Power revolution which could ultimately save consumers billions from their energy bills.

“The work of the commission continues through existing projects and the National Infrastructure Assessment and retains the support of a broad and deep consensus across the political spectrum as well as business and industry.

“What matters is that the Commission is established in a way that firmly secures its independence, provides the powers that it needs to do its job and places clear obligations on government to respond to its recommendations in a timely fashion.

“How this is done is a matter for government. But if the Commission is to succeed in its work it will be essential to get it right, and we look forward to seeing the government’s new proposals as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile a government spokesperson said: “No decision has been taken on the future of the Land Registry. A consultation on the Land Registry’s future closed in May and we are carefully considering our response. It is only right that new ministers take time to look at all their options before making a decision.”

More information about the Neighbourhood Planning Bill

More information about the National Infrastructure Commission

Roger Milne