Planning Act 2008

The Planning Act 2008 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom intended to speed up the process for approving major new infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, harbours, energy facilities such as nuclear power and waste facilities. Along with the Climate Change Bill and the Energy Bill this bill was considered by the Brown administration to be one of the "three legislative pillars of the Government's strategy to secure long-term prosperity and quality of life for all".[2]

The Planning Act 2008[1]
Long titleAn Act to establish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and make provision about its functions; to make provision about, and about matters ancillary to, the authorisation of projects for the development of nationally significant infrastructure; to make provision about town and country planning; to make provision about the imposition of a Community Infrastructure Levy; and for connected purposes.
Citation2008 c 29
Royal assent26 November 2008
Status: Amended
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

Key aims

  • A new body, the Infrastructure Planning Commission would make the decisions
  • These decisions would be based on new national policy statements
  • Hearings and the decision-making process would be timetabled
  • The new regime would be used for major energy projects
  • The Secretary of State would not be able to have the final say on major infrastructure decisions
  • A new Community Infrastructure Levy on developments would finance infrastructure (money would be raised from developers to pay for the facilities needed as a consequence of new developments, such as schools, hospitals and sewage plants).
  • Planning appeals in relation to minor developments would be heard by a panel of local councillors and not by a planning inspector.[3]


Political parties


Labour introduced the Bill that became the Planning Act, although some 60 Labour members signed a Commons Motion opposing plans to set up an independent commission in May 2008.[4]


The Conservatives were opposed to the Infrastructure Planning Commission while in opposition and are now in the process of replacing it with part of the Planning Inspectorate via the Localism Bill, which is likely to be implemented in April 2012.

Prime Minister David Cameron said before the 2010 election that "This quango is going to be almost entirely divorced from the processes of democracy. That is wrong. People need a planning system in which they feel they have a say – both at national and local level. That is why this Bill is getting such widespread opposition from so many different quarters"[4]

The coalition government have, however, retained the concept of National Policy Statements, the authorisation regime and the Community Infrastructure Levy[5]

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats were also opposed the Infrastructure Planning Commission. Previously opposed to nuclear power, they are also granted the ability to vote against the nuclear power National Policy Statement when it comes before Parliament.

Environmental groups

Friends of the Earth say that the government must make Climate Change a central consideration in the decision-making process.[6]

In November 2007 major environmental groups described the Planning Bill as a 'Developer's charter'[7] and the head of planning at the RSPB expressed concern saying that although the minister claimed that the bill will help protect the environment that it was more likely to aid developers trying to push through major schemes with scant regard to wildlife and the countryside and could "fast track environmental harm".[8]

Trade unions and businesses

John Cridland, then Deputy Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry supported the bill saying that it was in the national interest and would facilitate the building of infrastructure that will help Britain protect its energy security, build renewable power sources to cut carbon, and invest for the future”.[9]

The Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC)

The Infrastructure Planning Commission was formed on 1 October 2009 with a brief to oversee planning applications for major infrastructure projects (also known as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs)) such as power stations, roads, railways and airports claiming to cut the time to make a decision from seven years to less than a year and saving the taxpayer £300 million per year.[10]

Applications for large energy and transport projects had to be made to the IPC from 1 March 2010, but by December 2010 only two applications had in fact been made, one of which the IPC refused to accept as inadequately prepared. Despite claims that the general public would be cut out of the authorisation process, over 1000 representations were made on the application that the IPC accepted.

Community Infrastructure Levy

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a form of planning gain tax, where a proportion of the increase in value on land as a result of planning permission is used to finance the supporting infrastructure, such as schools and will 'unlock housing growth'[11]


Localism Act 2011

The coalition government introduced the Localism Act 2011, that made changes to the regime under the Planning Act 2008. It will replace the Infrastructure Planning Commission with a Major Infrastructure Planning Unit of the Planning Inspectorate, and return decision-making to the Secretary of State. It will also allow the House of Commons to be able to veto National Policy Statements, and makes other changes to the Planning Act regime.

The Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015

Amends sections 14 and appends section 30A to the Planning Act 2008. It sets out rules for disposal of radioactive waste, and surveying the potential sites.[12]


  1. The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 242 of this Act.
  2. "Planning Bill". Leader of the House of Commons. Archived from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  3. "Planning Bill 2007-08". UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  4. Grice, Andrew; Russell, Ben (24 June 2008). "Not in our backyard! A Bill that threatens historic right to protest". The Independent. London. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  5. "Tories say they will back community infrastructure levy". Property Week. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  6. "Planning Bill must include climate duty". Friends of the Earth. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  7. Benjamin, Alison (6 November 2007). "Critics dismiss planning bill as 'developers' charter'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  8. "Planning bill could fast track environmental harm". RSPB. 7 November 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  9. "CBI COMMENTS ON LORDS VOTE ON PLANNING BILL". Confederation of British Industry. 6 November 2008. Archived from the original on 12 November 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  10. Ruddick, Graham (1 October 2009). "Business leaders back controversial Infrastructure Planning Commission". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  11. "Community Infrastructure Levy: Initial Impact Assessment". Communities and Local Government. Archived from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  12. "The Infrastructure Planning (Radioactive Waste Geological Disposal Facilities) Order 2015". Retrieved 9 May 2015.

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