House of Commons Debates

15 July 2010

 

MAJOR PLANNING PROPOSALS

 

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) (Con): If he will bring forward proposals to ensure that people are able to prevent major planning proposals proceeding in their areas. [8507]

The Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark): All planning decisions should be democratically legitimate. Following the revocation of the regional spatial strategies, local communities will determine most planning applications. For major infrastructure projects, decisions will be taken on the basis of national planning statements, ratified by this House, by Ministers accountable to this House.

Chris Heaton-Harris: One of the things that have brought together communities in Daventry is their campaigns against wind farm developments. Does the Minister accept that disempowering local communities is profoundly counter-productive and actually deepens planning disputes, rather than helps to resolve them?

Greg Clark: My hon. Friend is exactly right. If we want to increase the contribution from renewable energy in this country-as we do-we should look at what happens on the continent, where they do not have the poison in the planning system I mentioned. Those countries have community-owned renewable energy developments and they allow people to share in the proceeds. That is exactly what we will do.


Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East) (Lab): Anyone reading Question 8 on the Order Paper could be forgiven for thinking that what many Tories and Liberal Democrats would like is a never-build-anything-anywhere policy. What assurance can the Minister give me that the natural nimby inclinations of so many on his Benches will not result in fewer affordable homes and fewer jobs being provided in Lewisham East, where they are so desperately needed by my constituents?

Greg Clark: The hon. Lady may not have noticed, but the effect of the previous Government's policy was to reduce housing development, so that virtually none happened. The strategies that we have talked about-the targets imposed-have deluded her into thinking that targets are the same thing as building. However, things have not happened that way and she should wake up to that.