Greater certainty and clarity about how infrastructure is approved, in Wales would make the nation a more competitive and attractive place for investment, says RTPI Cymru.
Consenting process for infrastructure projects need to be as streamlined and simple as possible to ensure Wales is a competitive place for investment, the Institute says in its response to a Welsh Government consultation, following devolution of powers from Westminster for large-scale infrastructure.
It says a failure to provide adequate compulsory acquisition powers will make Wales a less attractive place to invest in large scale infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure projects which include a number of interrelated projects, such as a power generation project which could also include substations, storage, road works, new electricity cables, should be approved in a single consent – known as a Welsh Infrastructure Consent.
To further streamline the process, the Institute recommends Welsh Government work with Natural Resources Wales, councils and other bodies to grant the range of consents, licences and other approvals in one single application. This will prevent developers having to request these separately from each relevant, consenting body - saving time and money.
Roisin Willmott FRTPI, Director of RTPI Cymru said:
“We want the planning system to provide the greatest level of certainty and simplicity for developers while extracting the greatest public benefit. Our recommendations will help the planning system contribute to making Wales an attractive place for infrastructure investment.”
The Institute also wants clear criteria to be published to demonstrate how the Minister will determine which approval process a project goes through to provide the certainty these changes are designed to create, developers to understand which application process might apply to their project.
RTPI Cymru have also called for a stronger link between policy and decision-making, particularly in relation to the National Development Framework (NDF). It says the status of the NDF should be strengthened to ensure infrastructure investment is consistent with the objectives of the Framework.
It has also raised a range of other issues, which impact certainty and clarity, including fees charged, resourcing of organisations involved in the approvals process, and transition arrangements.
RTPI Cymru have drawn on Welsh members’ expertise to respond to this consultation about how infrastructure development in Wales is approved following new powers given to the Welsh Government in 2017.