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MPA gives mixed reaction to Tory planning proposals

THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has given a mixed reaction to the publication of the Conservative Party’s long-awaited policy Green Paper on planning.

The Association says Tory recognition that the existing planning system is not fit for purpose, is too complex and costly, and is failing to deliver sound plans, agrees with its own publicly stated analysis and is to be welcomed.

Likewise, it welcomes the recognition of the link between an effective planning system and the ability to reinvigorate the construction and development industries, which will be vital to the country’s economic recovery.

The MPA also praises positive initiatives such as the proposed abolition of the ‘regions’, the scrapping of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), the creation of a presumption in favour of sustainable development and the strengthening of parliamentary scrutiny of major infrastructure projects.

However, on a more cautionary note, the Association says it is concerned that the shift towards ‘bottom-up’ planning, based on the views of local communities, could risk institutionalizing ‘nimbysim and parochialism’ unless there are effective checks and balances, such as a strong national policy framework and rigorous monitoring of key indicators, eg the maintenance of sufficient landbanks of aggregates.

Likewise, it says the introduction of third party rights of appeal risks creating uncertainty, delays and costs for developers, while a weakening of the powers of the Planning Inspectorate could act as a further disincentive.

Unlike other forms of development, minerals can only be dug where they lie and their uneven distribution means that regional and inter-regional supplies are essential and must be safeguarded, says the MPA.

The Association has expressed it willingness to work with the Conservative Party to clarify certain aspects of the paper, but says is keen to build upon and improve the effective aspects of the existing managed aggregate supply system (MASS), which is founded on the principle of ‘steady and adequate supply’.

Commenting on the paper, Simon van der Byl, MPA executive director for public policy, said: ‘It is pleasing to see that there is awareness of the fact that some minerals need to be treated as strategic and must be managed by the Secretary of State. This acknowledges that minerals are extracted for the benefit of the country and not just for local communities.

‘We are ready to work with any future administration to ensure that there is sufficient access to the minerals required to support the sustainable development of the UK.’

Comment: What do you think? Do you agree with the MPA or do you have a different view? Click here to have your say on the Forum.


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