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  • by Karma Loveday

Treasury to fast track a new National Policy Statement for water resources

The government will prioritise the delivery of a National Policy Statement (NPS) for water resources as part of a package of measures to accelerate the delivery of priory major infrastructure projects.

That was among the infrastructure policies set out in The Growth Plan 2022, published on Friday by chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng. Along with water resources, the plan pledged NPS for energy and national networks, and a cross-government action plan for reform of the Nationally Significant Infrastructure planning system.

HM Treasury argued the UK’s planning system is too slow and too fragmented, and that delivery delays undermine investor confidence and restrict growth. According to the plan: “Delays are partly a result of a complex patchwork of environmental and regulatory rules, some of which are retained European Union (EU) law. The government wants to reform and streamline these arrangements to promote growth whilst ensuring environmental outcomes are protected.

“The Growth Plan announces that new legislation will be brought forward in the coming months to address these barriers by reducing unnecessary burdens to speed up the delivery of much-needed infrastructure. This includes:

• reducing the burden of environmental assessments;

• reducing bureaucracy in the consultation process;

• reforming habitats and species regulations; and

• increasing flexibility to make changes to a Development Consent Order once it has been submitted.”

Annex B of The Growth Plan identified the infrastructure projects that the government will prioritise for acceleration. There were no water projects in the list.

National Infrastructure Commission chair, Sir John Armitt, welcomed the removal of additional planning barriers for onshore wind projects set out in the plan, and added: “We also need to put wind in the sails of other major projects, including offshore wind and water supply infrastructure, which serve the national interest while ensuring proper engagement with local communities. Crucially that includes publishing updated national policy statements for key infrastructure sectors as soon as possible, which will allow government to set out its strategic objectives and guide the priorities of regulators, industry and investors.”


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