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PR 8 - Greenpeace nuclear case sets sound ground rules for public involvement

15 February 2007

The RTPI welcomes the High Court's judgement that the government's Energy Review did not include a sound public consultation. Mr Justice Sullivan ruled there was not enough information in the public domain from which to proceed directly to make a 'national statement of need' for nuclear energy proposals that would be used to underpin planning decisions.

The RTPI has consistently called for the government to set out high level statements of policy on the nationally important infrastructure that we all need and use to provide our energy, water, transport, health or education needs.  Such policy would help the government, communities and planners to work more effectively together to take timely decisions about major projects that are often controversial.  By recognising the need for such policy, the Energy Review had taken important steps towards improving the planning system for major infrastructure.

However, if 'national statements of need' for major infrastructure are to be developed and used in decision making, the RTPI believes that they should be made using a rigorous process.  Above all, they should be spatial and inclusive – identifying broadly where new development might take place and providing people with a real opportunity to have their say.

Rynd Smith, RTPI Head of Policy and Practice said, 'the Energy Review consultation was seriously deficient in that it proposed progress towards a nuclear statement of need without offering any meaningful public involvement.  The Court made no judgement about the rights or wrongs of nuclear power.  However, it quite correctly identified that there are minimum requirements for public involvement that must be met if the Government is to make weighty new planning policies for nationally important infrastructure'.

The RTPI today urges the Government to accept the principles set out in its own consultation response to this aspect of the Energy Review and in the decision of the Court.  National statements of need for infrastructure will be very valuable policy documents, but they must be prepared with meaningful public involvement.

 

For further information or a full copy of the Judges report please contact:

General information: Andrew Kliman, Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479, mob. 07870 672 020

 

Notes to Editors

1. The RTPI responded to the nuclear consultation in the Energy Review, where it supported the principle of a 'national statement of need' but advised the government that 'the RTPI does not consider that the consultation undertaken to support the Energy Review should be viewed as providing sufficient basis for the development of a 'statement of need' for nuclear or any other form of generation.'  A copy of the response can be seen at http://www.rtpi.org.uk/download/180/pol20061159.pdf

2. In the Greenpeace case, Mr Justice Sullivan said of the Energy Review consultation, "something has gone clearly and radically wrong".   The consultation paper was an "issues paper" that did not contain sufficiently concrete data or proposals to enable the consultees to judge the merits of an outline, let alone the detail of a statement of national need.  The document was "wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response".

3.The Greenpeace case judgement supports the RTPI's 'vision for planning', which calls for all planning processes and policies to be spatial, sustainable, integrative and critically, to meaningfully include community views.  The RTPI's 'vision for planning' can be seen at http://www.rtpi.org.uk/item/296/23/5/3

4.  The RoyalTown Planning Institute (RTPI)

The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.