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  6. Ministerial responsibility for major projects on agenda

Ministerial responsibility for major projects on agenda

The Government has not yet decided which secretaries of state will be responsible for making the decision on specific nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs), Energy Minister Charles Hendry has revealed.

The issue of who decides what was raised by MPs on the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee who questioned Hendry and officials for over an hour and half on 30 November.

It was suggested that if the energy SoS decided new power stations this could be criticised since the SoS would have a vested interest in supporting energy projects. Hendry said he expected that this would clarified in the localism bill, due for publication later this month.

He also made it clear that MPs would vote on all the National Policy Statements (NPSs) as well as having an opportunity to debate them, and potentially try to amend them, as part of the Coalition’s wish to make the new regime for NSIPs more democratic.

In a separate but related development, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) has published the representations, mainly objections, into the first scheme it will determine. This is the proposed energy from waste plant which Covanta Energy wants to build near Stewartby in Bedfordshire.

Meanwhile, two London planning authorities have formally announced they are joining forces to fight Thames Water's plan to use Barn Elms playing fields as a location for tunneling work as part of its proposals for the Thames Tunnel, a new 'super sewer' running from west to east London.

Richmond and Wandsworth have decided to cooperate to fight the scheme which is one of only two waste water projects currently scheduled to be considered by the IPC or its successor.

Councillors say the project would be severely disruptive to local residents, promote traffic problems and result in an unacceptable loss of playing fields and parkland.


Roger Milne

2 December 2010