Budget special: Planning for the future

18th April 2011

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Natural resources ,
  • Local government ,
  • Construction ,
  • Ecosystems



The Budget set out plans to streamline the planning system, which the chancellor described as a "chronic obstacle" to economic growth.

Changes to the planning process are a key element of the government’s “Plan for growth”, which was released alongside the Budget documents.

Under the proposals, all bodies involved in planning decisions will have to prioritise growth and jobs, a new presumption in favour of sustainable development (SD) will be introduced, so that the default answer to such development is “yes”, major infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked through the planning system and there will be a 12-month cap on the time it takes to decide a planning application.

Martin Baxter, policy director at IEMA, says that making SD key to planning decisions raises all sorts of questions. “Does this mean the government is putting the environment at the heart of the planning system?” he asks.

The answer, he states, will depend on the definition of SD the government adopts. Baxter fears that economic growth may be the key factor in deciding whether a development is “sustainable”, and warns that major planning decisions will still have to comply with the Directives on environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment even if the new presumption in favour of SD is established.

Business groups generally welcomed the plans. “It sends the right signals to attract the £200 billion needed for the UK’s national infrastructure upgrade,” said CBI director general John Cridland.

By contrast, Neil Sinden, director of policy at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The planning measures present a potentially devastating threat to the countryside and are unlikely to boost long-term economic growth. The planning system exists to prevent unsustainable, unwanted and environmentally damaging development.”

The government aims to publish a draft presumption in favour of sustainable development in May 2011.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Is the sea big enough?

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Three-quarters of UK adults are concerned about the impact that climate change will have on their bills, according to polling commissioned by Positive Money.

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close