Another nail in the coffin of “Localism”
This government came into power on a wave of promises. Who can forget the sight of David Cameron in the Arctic, as a guest of WWF, hugging a husky and promising us “The greenest government ever”.
A sight that some of us might now wish to linger on for quite so long was that of “Saint” Eric Pickles who promised us all “localism” and a means to ensure that community opinion was taken into account when large scale planning applications were submitted, which might have a detrimental effect on the amenity value of the local area.
Wily PR companies soon jumped onto this, and worked out how they could use it for the benefit of their clients, as we can see from this video from Cuadrila’s chums over at PPS Group.
They even set up a special website to explain to their clients how to they can use “localism” to gain support for their schemes at http://www.localism.co.uk . That is where the video above and many others are hosted.
It’s no small wonder that many people are becoming a little more cynical every day is it?
However, all of that effort may no longer be necessary as our government, perhaps belatedly realising that “localism” isn’t a good thing when you want to force unwanted industrialisation on an entire area, is now proposing to:
“widen the scope of the planning regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) … At the same time the Department for Communities and Local Government has proposed reducing the number of different consents that infrastructure developers require. It is consulting on a new streamlined ‘one-stop-shop’ service and on reducing the number of bodies developers need to consult on every application.”
this extension is to include “large-scale onshore oil and gas extraction projects.”
This is all part of the new “Growth & Infrastructure Bill” which seems designed to stop local councils getting in the way of major schemes that might blight their areas, but which might provide much needed tax revenue for Mr Osborne.
PPS Group sum up the Bill’s objectives thus
- Allowing the reconsideration of economically unviable ‘Section 106’ agreements for affordable housing provision.
- Cutting back the volume of paperwork which applicants have to submit with a planning application.
- Restricting town and village green applications being made when a planning application is submitted, has been approved or the land is allocated for development. Also allowing land owners to make regular simplified declarations to the registration authorities that the land is not common land even when it is accessible to the public.
- Making it easier to stop up or divert highways and public footpaths at the same time as planning permission is granted.
- Implementing the recommendations from the ‘Penfold’ review to remove other over-lapping development consent regimes, where multiple permissions from different government agencies are required on top of planning permission; and
- Allowing centralised decisions where a local authority has been designated as having a record of very poor performance. Decisions will be taken in twelve months from the start of examination. Existing requirements to consult local communities are retained.
This bill can only be a bad thing for anyone opposing shale as development in their area, but it also has significance with relation to over-development for houses which seems to be another part of this government’s mantra.
We need MORE consultation on these issues. To suggest that it is necessary to “streamline” the process to make it easier for people to ruin our environment is simply irresponsible.
What can you do?
Please write to your MP telling him that you are aware of the proposals and that you are very unhappy with the Coalition Government as a result.
If this slips through unnoticed then this Government will have proved itself to be the least “local” and the least “green” so far.