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Public enquiries set for the chop

AS MPs debate a controversial Planning Bill this week, opponents fear it would stop residents having a say on major local issues.

AS MPs debate a controversial Planning Bill this week, opponents fear it would stop residents having a say on major local issues.

The Bill is heading towards its final stages in the House of Commons and aims to quicken the sluggish planning process by avoiding long public inquiries.

If it becomes law, it would see the introduction of a new Infrastructure Planning Commission, who would approve decisions on projects like major roads, airports and power stations.

MPs will write "national policy statements" outlining how many big projects they want to see. Then an infrastructure

planning commission will approve each specific project - taking the final decision away from the Secretary of State.

But Solihull prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate Maggie Throup says the law would "take involvement away from local people".

"It doesn't matter if it's major or minor infrastructure, if it's going to affect local people they should have a chance to voice concerns."

"Decision would be given to a quango where not one person would be responsible for the final decision as it stands now.

"The Government is backing away from making decisions and passing it to an unelected, undemocratic body. The

process at the moment is far better as it takes into account the wishes of local people and goes through elected council-lors."

Friends of the Earth have also slammed the Bill and MPs decision to leave out any reference to climate change.

Campaigner, Chris Crean, said: "These results fly in the face of the government's proposal to cut local democracy out of major planning decisions - and it's ludicrous decision to leave climate change out of the Planning Bill altogether.

"The environmental impact of major projects such as roads, airports, incinerators and power stations must be taken into account." ..SUPL:

 

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