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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 12:30 GMT
Head-to-head: Planning law review
Stansted Airport
Barker proposes a central body to determine major projects
The Barker report into changing England's planning laws has recommended the creation of a new national body to decide on major building projects, such as airports.

Opponents of airport expansion say such a move would mean local communities would have less of a say than they presently do, but supporters believe a speedier planning process will benefit the economy.

BRIAN ROSS

Member of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign

It is very clear from Kate Barker's many criticisms of the current planning system that she is heading in the same direction as last week's Eddington report which called for a streamlining of our planning system - essentially to make it easier or quicker for developers to get approval for their projects.

Both Barker and Eddington try to provide assurance that democratic accountability and public participation will need to be maintained - but it is clear from reading Barker and Eddington that they envisage a more centralised and far less democratic and participative approach overseen by some new quango, an unelected Planning Commission.

It's a blatant attempt to marginalise the input into planning decisions from local community groups
Brian Ross

The government has commissioned these two reviews and it will now use them as justification for new planning legislation, probably in 2008-9, following a white paper next year.

The purpose of the legislation will be to make it easier for the government to deliver its controversial airport and housing policies in the face of widespread local opposition.

It's a blatant attempt to marginalise the input into planning decisions from local community groups like ourselves and from democratically elected local authorities.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, especially since the government hasn't even given the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act time to settle down.

KEITH JOWETT

Chief executive of the Airport Operators Association

Clearly the UK has historically been burdened with a planning regime that can take a very, very long time to address some important national issues, so speeding those up is important.

In all the years since the last world war, only one new full length runway has been built in the UK, at Manchester, whereas three runways have been built at Paris Charles de Gaulle in the last generation.

The growth of aviation and the economies that depend on them, has been vastly helped on the continent compared to here, and we are losing ground very rapidly.

It is vitally important that the local community be engaged in the details of planning proposals, and there is a national interest that has to be considered that will have a local impact.

It's not just the airports, it's the economies like London's which are losing out
Keith Jowett

That local impact is important, but it shouldn't stop the national requirement proceeding, in an appropriate fashion.

There were earlier proposals from this government some years back which gave us some concern, as in some cases they completely removed the local consultation process, and we wouldn't want to see that.

Airports like Heathrow, have been at maximum capacity for many, many years already. They have lost a huge amount of ground to continental competition.

And it's not just the airports, it's the economies like London's, which are losing out.



SEE ALSO
England planning overhaul urged
05 Dec 06 |  Business
Q&A: English planning law review
05 Dec 06 |  Business

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