Members of the Lords scrutinised Clause 21 covering the Removal of Planning Act 2008 consent and certification requirements. Lord Berkeley (Labour) said: 'Amendment 72 refers to the fact the Planning Act regime was supposed to give a one-stop shop for major projects. The problem is that there is still a large number of prescribed consents that may be disapplied only by a development consent order with the permission of the body that would otherwise be responsible for granting that consent. If that body's permission cannot be obtained, one has to go for separate consents, which add to the time and cost of the application.'
Declaring an interest as chairperson of the Rail Freight Group, he also spoke of Amendment 75ZA and said: 'If you look big projects that have been built and that are being planned at the moment, some have done extremely well in reducing the amount of road traffic to and from the sites, and some have done pretty badly. The construction of terminal 5 was probably the best in terms of non-road movements; it had several consolidation centres away from the site and brought everything in by rail. The Olympics at Stratford were not bad: a lot of material went by rail and some of it went by water... The suggestion is to require those who are applying to those granting development consent to include in their applications a report on the feasibility of using water and rail transport. It may not always be possible, but it will at least make people think about it.'
Lord Jenkin of Roding (Conservative) followed saying: 'We are addressing the need for national infrastructure... Much of the bill - and I welcome this - is clearly directed to that end; to try to remove some of the barriers, speed up the timetables, reduce the bureaucracy that has been involved, and in every way help those who are contemplating substantial infrastructure investment to achieve their objectives, of course while protecting important environmental and other interests.'
He continued: 'The objective of a one-stop shop has proved extraordinarily difficult to achieve in reality. Some of the amendments in this group are intended to try to help this forward.'
Lord Snape (Labour), former opposition frontbench spokesperson for Transport, added his support to the amendments saying: 'We have only to look at the inordinate time that all major projects in this country take. In my time as a transport spokesperson in the other place, I spent some time attending the Terminal 5 inquiry. The amount of time wasted, where lawyer after lawyer and group after group restated virtually the same matters day after day, month after month and, in the case of that project, year after year, was, to say the least, expensive and inordinate. Anything that can be done within the democratic process to shorten that period is to be welcomed
Amendment 72 was later withdrawn after Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) responded on behalf of the government. He said: 'Clause 21 and parts of Clause 22 remove the need for the five separate certificates or consents currently required and allow them to be dealt with under the single development consent order, a change which has been widely and strongly welcomed.'
Referring to pre-applications guidance he said: 'My noble friend Lord Jenkin also highlighted the recently updated guidance on pre-application. I welcome his positive comments in this regard, which, of course, make it clear that non-planning consents can be included within the development consent and that the bodies normally responsible for granting these consents should make every effort to facilitate this. They should only object to the inclusion of such a non-planning consent with good reason and after careful consideration of reasonable alternatives.'
In the same group of amendments members also spoke about the fees charged by Planning Inspectorate (PINS). Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative) assured the House that he would deliver a written response to address their concerns after committee stage.
Lords also discussed compulsory purchase, highway tolls and safeguarding areas including, ports, canals and plots of land.
The bill will continue line by line scrutiny in committee stage tomorrow (6 February).
Previous stages of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill
What is committee stage?
Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage, starting from the front of the bill and working to the end. Any member of the Lords can take part.
It usually starts no later than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.
The day before committee stage starts, amendments (changes) are published in a marshalled list - in which all the amendments are placed in order.
During committee stage every clause of the bill has to be agreed to and votes on the amendments can take place. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments.
Growth and Infrastructure Bill summary
The bill looks at the following areas:
- the use of infrastructure
- the carrying-out of development, and the compulsory acquisition of land
- how rating lists are to be compiled
- the rights of employees of companies who agree to be employee owners.