In a last minute u-turn the government has tabled amendments to the Planning Bill outlining a legal duty for national policy statements (NPSs) to consider climate change.

The amendments - tabled last week ahead of the bill reaching report stage on Thursday - strengthen the scrutiny of the statements by the House of Lords.

The move has been long called for by Friends of the Earth.

A Lords committee will now have a key role reviewing and scrutinising NPSs, increasing parliamentary scrutiny of draft statements by both Houses of Parliament. NPSs and regional plans will now have to show how they mitigate and adapt to climate change - and government must explain how it does this to parliament.

The amendments confirm that inquiry procedures will ensure that the Infrastructure Planning Commission can, where appropriate, invite cross-examination of witnesses.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears said: “With climate change now firmly implanted in this bill it really will deliver, in a more democratic system, the low carbon economy we need to move to. She added: “We have improved the bill at each stage and listened to constructive ideas from MPs and peers.”

Planning Bill minister John Healey added: “In the tough climate we face the economic case for this bill is stronger than ever before. We simply can’t create a modern and greener economy using a post war planning system.”

The DCLG said: “Throughout the bills’ parliamentary passage ministers have listened to constructive ideas to get the bill right.”


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