News Update - 18th July, 2014
Brandon Lewis takes on planning following reshuffle
Brandon Lewis has been promoted to the post of Minister for Planning and Housing as a result of the Government reshuffle announced by David Cameron this week.
The Yarmouth MP, who had been Parliamentary Under-secretary for Local Government since 2012 with particular responsibility for the fire service, high streets, Travellers and community pubs, said he was “honoured” to be made a minister.
Via Twitter he said: “Thank you to everyone for the kind messages, am looking forward to the work ahead.”
He replaces Nick Boles, who has been moved from Planning Minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to become a minister with a joint remit in both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Education.
A new face in the department is North Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt, appointed as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the DCLG with responsibility for coastal towns and specifically Portsmouth.
Norfolk MP Liz Truss, the former schools minister, is replacing Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary.
Planning Portal, July 17, 2014 – http://portaldirector.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/brandon-lewis-takes-on-planning-following-reshuffle/
Offshore wind farm gets development consent
The Rampion Offshore wind farm, comprising offshore and onshore electrical infrastructure including a cable route from the coast to a new substation near the existing Bolney Substation in Mid Sussex, has been given development consent by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
The decision supports the recommendation made by the Planning Inspectorate and follows an examination process laid down in the Planning Act 2008 (as amended by the Localism Act 2011).
Planning Inspectorate Chief Executive Simon Ridley said. “This is a significant application for the offshore wind energy sector and required a Panel of three Examining Inspectors who were given the task of considering the evidence put to them by the interested parties.”
Planning Portal, July 17, 2014 – http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/south-east/rampion-offshore-wind-farm/?ipcsection=overview
Welsh Government publishes ‘fracking’ clarification
A clarification letter about ‘fracking’ development in Wales has been published by Carl Sargeant, Welsh Minister for Housing and Regeneration.
The letter confirms that the extraction of gas and oil whether by conventional or unconventional (i.e. hydraulic fracturing) methods is classed as mineral development, and that general policy considerations set out in Minerals
Planning Policy Wales are applicable to fracking development.
The letter also refers to the responsibilities covered by other regulators outside the town and country planning system.
Welsh Government, July 16, 2014 – http://wales.gov.uk/topics/planning/policy/policyclarificationletters/2014/cl-04-14/?lang=en
The Government has named the eight shortlisted sites for Britain’s first proposed spaceport. Six of the sites shortlisted for the spaceport, due to open in 2018, are in Scotland. They include Glasgow Prestwick airport and RAF Lossiemouth.
All have to meet strict criteria, including being a safe distance from densely populated areas and a runway that can be extended to more than 3,000 metres. The aim is to use the spaceport to launch tourists into space as well as commercial satellites.
The list of possible spaceport locations is:
- Campbeltown airport (Scotland)
- Glasgow Prestwick airport (Scotland)
- Llanbedr airport (Wales)
- Newquay Cornwall airport (England)
- Kinloss barracks (Scotland)
- RAF Leuchars (Scotland)
- RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)
- Stornorway airport (Scotland)
Gov.UK, July 15, 2014 – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-paves-way-for-uk-spaceport
Commission assesses ‘Boris Island’ feasibility
The Government’s Independent Airports Commission has published four feasibility studies into the proposals for a new airport in the Thames estuary.
One of these concluded that the plans backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson for a project on the Hoo Peninsula, Kent, would result in “large scale adverse effects on international nature conservation designations” and “radically and irreversibly” change the landscape, “noted for its remoteness”.
This report also said the cost of providing compensatory habitat could be around £2bn. It noted: “the scale of the compensation habit creation needed would be on a scale unprecedented for any single development in Europe”.
Gov.UK, July 10, 2014 – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/inner-thames-estuary-airport-studies
Mixed fortunes for Scots wind farms
Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has granted consent for a 22-turbine wind farm in West Lothian, while refusing permission for a similar sized scheme in the same area.
The approved Harburnhead development, near West Calder, will have a total generating capacity of up to 66 megawatts.
But an application to build the 21-turbine Fauch Hill wind farm, also near West Calder, has been refused on the grounds of unacceptable adverse visual and landscape impacts.
The minister said: “We want to see the right developments in the right places, and that is why I have refused permission for the proposed wind farm at Fauch Hill, which I consider would have brought unacceptable impacts on the landscape, particularly the Pentland hills.”
However, power company EDF Energy Renewables has successfully appealed West Lothian Council’s decision last year to refuse a proposed six-turbine wind park with a maximum height of 125 metres on a site approximately four kilometres south of West Calder.
The council cited unacceptable landscape and visual impacts but the independent reporters who handled the appeal case recommended the scheme should go ahead after concluding that the impacts weren’t unacceptable. Scottish ministers agreed and allowed the appeal.
The Scottish Government, July 8, 2014 – http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Wind-farm-to-benefit-West-Lothian-e91.aspx
High speed rail property compensation proposals
The Department for Transport has signalled new consultation on additional assistance for people near the HS2 Phase One route between London and the West Midlands.
Ministers have proposed two measures. One involves an ‘alternative cash offer’ that would give rural owner-occupiers within the rural support zone a choice between selling their home to the Government for what it would have been worth had there been no plans for HS2 and remaining in their home and receiving 10 per cent of that value
The other proposal would be a ‘homeowner payment scheme’ that would give rural homeowners outside the voluntary purchase area but within 300 metres of the line the opportunity to share in the benefits of HS2 as it would run near them but will not provide them with a direct benefit.
Gov.UK, July 8, 2014 – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-property-consultation-2014
Armitt proposes fast track to long-term infrastructure plan
A national infrastructure assessment could be complete by midway through next parliament
Sir John Armitt has published draft legislation to enable production of a 25 to 30 year assessment of the UK’s infrastructure needs by midway through the next Parliament.
Armitt recommends the government should set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, to help build political consensus around critical infrastructure developments.
Armitt proposes that a bill to set up the NIC should be among the first tabled by the next government.
The NIC would produce a National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) laying out areas where infrastructure development is critically needed every ten years, and then monitor plans by governments to meet these recommendations.
Labour leader Ed Milliband, whose party commissioned Armitt to produce the proposals, announced on July 3 that his party will back Armitt’s plans.
Building.co.uk, July 4, 2014 – http://www.building.co.uk/armitt-proposes-fast-track-to-long-term-infrastructure-plan/5069571.article
Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP)
The Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan is the Welsh Government's key vehicle to drive collaboration, increase visibility and deliver our strategic capital investment decisions.
Targeted investment in their infrastructure is one of the main ways Government can contribute to economic growth and protect and boost jobs. It is also vital to delivery of modern efficient public services.
A key component of their successful response to the economic recovery has been the concerted action to boost infrastructure investment, providing an important short term economic stimulus during the construction phase whilst creating the conditions for increased and sustainable growth in the medium and longer term. They are delivering this stimulus through the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan.
Welsh Government, June 24, 2014 – http://wales.gov.uk/funding/wiipindex/?lang=en
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