The Infrastructure Bill was introduced into Parliament on 6 June 2014. The Bill proposes minor changes to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) procedure, this includes the potential to appoint an Examining authority earlier in the process, changes to the make up of panels, and an ability for the Secretary of State to make regulations for material changes to be made to Development Consent Orders, these would be in addition to the powers to allow non-material changes that already exist in the 2008 Act.
A very practical change proposed by the Bill will allow an order to be made for the deemed discharge of certain planning conditions – where approval/ consent/ agreement of the LPA is deemed to have been given and no enforcement action can then be taken. This was promised in the Autumn 2013 statement. An applicant would have to had applied for the discharge of the specific condition(s) but the time period in which the LPA were to respond has expired (this is to be prescribed). There are of course to be a number of exemptions and exclusions – the detail of any development order will be interesting to see.
The Bill also proposes the introduction of strategic highway companies to manage strategic roads in place of the Highways Agency, the control of invasive non-native species, a new role for the Homes and Communities Agency of land disposal, and a community right to buy into a renewable electricity development.