The Growth Plan 2022 launched by the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng sets out the Government’s proposals to boost the economy and drive higher growth through deregulation. Key measures related to planning include:
- New Investment Zones will be created across the UK which will benefit from tax incentives, planning liberalisation and wider support for the local economy. These are set out in Annex A of the document together with a non-exhaustive list of 38 authorities with whom the Government is in discussions on establishing an Investment Zone in their area.
- The Growth Plan sets out 138 infrastructure projects that the Government will prioritise for acceleration, across transport, energy and digital infrastructure which are set out at Annex B.
- New legislation will be introduced to simplify planning, environmental and regulatory rules, some of which are retained EU law. The measures are aimed at reducing unnecessary burdens to speed up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and include:
- Reducing the burden of environmental assessments
- Reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process
- Reforming habitats and species regulations; and
- Increasing flexibility to make changes to a DCO once it has been submitted.
- Changes to the judicial review system are planned to avoid claims which cause unnecessary delays as part of further sector specific changes to accelerate delivery of infrastructure. Other measures include:
- Bringing onshore wind planning policy in line with other infrastructure to allow it to be deployed more easily in England
- Prioritising the delivery of National Policy Statements for energy, water resources and national networks, and of a cross-government action plan for reform of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure planning system
- Reforms to accelerate roads delivery; and
- Amendments to the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill to give telecoms operators easier access to telegraph poles on private land, supporting the delivery of gigabit capable broadband.
- Increased incentives for public sector to sell surplus land which will encourage Government departments to increase the sale of public land, including sites for housing, and allow departments to reinvest to support public services.
Environmental groups have expressed concerns over the deregulation proposals removing key legal protections for the environment. The Chancellor said in a recent BBC interview that “the Government is not going to relax environmental rules” and “is focused on the process. Too often in this country the process just takes too long. It doesn’t mean that you change the standards, but the process of the paperwork and actually getting consents is taking too long. And that, as you’ll appreciate, is an obstacle to growth.”
The key message to take away is that the Government’s agenda is heavily focused on growth but it remains to be seen at what cost.
This article is for general purpose and guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken before acting on any of the topics covered. No part of this article may be used, reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means without the prior permission of Brecher LLP.