The proposed changes are intended to "ensure that only schemes which are genuinely nationally significant have to proceed through the Planning Act development consent process".
According to the consultation document, at present there are no thresholds under the Planning Act 2008 in relation to size or scale for rail and highways projects.
It says that currently all highway schemes which consist of construction of or alteration to the strategic road network and all rail schemes consisting of construction to or alternation of the national railway network in England must receive development consent under the Act.
According to the consultation, due to the lack of thresholds, "schemes such as siding improvements of 500 metres and a local trunk road improvement have had to be dealt with in the same way as new motorways and railway lines".
Under proposals in the consultation document, railway development would only fall within the Planning Act 2008 regime "if the construction or alteration of the railway consists of or includes the construction or alteration of railway track of a continuous length of more than 2 route kms all situated outside existing railway operational land".
The document also says that the government proposes to amend legislation to exclude all major local road schemes and the delivery of development mitigation highway works from the mandatory requirement to use the Development Consent Order under the Planning Act.
Major Infrastructure Planning Reform – Amendments to the definitions for Highways and Rail Nationally Significant Schemes in the Planning Act 2008 is available here.