Skip to main content

What does the government’s Growth Plan say about infrastructure planning?

London aerial view layout infrastructure

On 23 September 2022, the government published ‘The Growth Plan 2022’, a document it describes as making “growth the government’s central economic mission”. Clearly a large number of the policy announcements it contained have been widely reported on in recent days, but what did it say about infrastructure planning?

The government makes it clear that it sees “red tape” in the current planning system as the barrier to delivery of infrastructure within acceptable timescales. Describing the current system as “too slow and fragmented” and offering examples of offshore windfarms taking up to four years to work their way through the planning processes, the Growth Plan blames a “complex patchwork of environmental and regulatory rules”.

It then identifies four areas in which it intends to make changes to speed up the process:

  • Reducing the burden of environmental assessments
  • Reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process
  • Reforming habitats and species regulations
  • Increasing the flexibility to make changes to DCOs once they have been submitted

It is expected that these changes will come forward through the promised Planning and Infrastructure Bill. However, the Growth Plan itself contains absolutely no details on how these four aims will be achieved. The changes are potentially wide-ranging in nature, covering several different stages in the DCO application process and for that reason all those working in that area will need to keep an eye out for further updates. The key will be the detail in the draft legislation once published.

The Growth Plan does contain more specific changes in relation to individual sectors, as follows:

  • Prioritising the delivery of new National Policy Statements for energy, water resources and national networks
  • Changing the policy around onshore wind to ensure it is deployed more easily
  • Reforms to accelerate road delivery, including potential changes to the Judicial Review system
  • Changes to allow telecoms operators easier access to telegraph poles on private land to support the installation of gigabit capable broadband

However, again, the industry’s ability to act on this will be limited without further detail on how these aims are to be achieved.

Contact the Author(s)

Share this article

Contact the Author(s)