wind turbines

UK government to relax regulations in bid to speed up infrastructure projects

The government has launched an ‘Action Plan’ to hasten the installation of infrastructure projects deemed to be of national significance such as new transport links and offshore wind farms.

In particular, the new measures are designed to streamline the planning process for large-scale infrastructure projects.

According to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, it will help speed up building to support economic growth, improve connectivity across the country, bolster energy security and help the UK reach net zero goals.

A new fast-track process will be piloted, with powers for the Secretary of State to set shorter timelines for certain projects.

The changes also include increasing community engagement and making environmental protections more effective.

In 2020, academics released a study into why major infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Crossrail often fail or have budgets that spiral out of control.

They found that their scale, high levels of complexity and substantial impact on communities, the environment and state governments make them notoriously “difficult to manage”.

Local government minister Lee Rowley MP said: “We are determined to level up communities, spread opportunity and drive economic growth across the country.

“For us to meet our goals, it is vital we have the right infrastructure in place now and for the future.

“The plan we have published today demonstrates the commitment across government to ensuring the planning system supports us to improve our energy security and deliver the major transport links and essential facilities this country needs to thrive.”

The scope of the Action Plan covers large-scale infrastructure projects related to energy, transport, water, and waste.

Between 2012 and 2021 there was a 65 per cent increase in the time it took for projects to be approved through the government process, and the Action Plan aims to tackle this.

The government has already asked the National Infrastructure Commission to make recommendations on its plan and said it would “streamlining regulations” to help fast track new projects.

It also plans to reform environmental regulations around new development in an effort to “reduce bureaucracy”.

In November, campaigners warned that more than a thousand UK laws designed to protect the environment and ensure minimum standards for water quality and pollution are under threat from the government’s decision to press on with the Retained EU Law Bill.

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