DfT publishes planning document for major roads and rail schemes

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published its national policy statement (NPS) for national networks against which planning decisions on nationally significant transport infrastructure projects will be made.

Roads infrastructure: DfT has published key planning document (picture: Highways Agency)
Roads infrastructure: DfT has published key planning document (picture: Highways Agency)

The National Networks NPS sets out the policy against which the transport secretary will make decisions on applications for development consent for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) on the road and rail networks and strategic rail freight interchanges.

The final version of the policy statement includes a series of revisions after a consultation on the draft document, launched in December 2013, received 5,800 responses.

According to the government's response to the consultation, the NPS is now "clear" that it is "vital that policies in local plans need to be taken into account when bringing a scheme forward on the national networks".

The government's response also says that it has "strengthened the text" around protection for National Parks, "ensuring consistency with the National Planning Policy Framework and introducing a presumption against significant road widening or the building of new roads and strategic rail freight interchanges in National Parks, the Broads and areas of outstanding natural beauty".

The response says that the final NPS includes a revised approach to clarify for need for development.

"We agree that national demand forecasts, while a useful indicator of future demand and national need at an aggregate level, should not be the sole basis for decisions to justify need for specific schemes," the document says.

"The approach in the NPS has been revised to make clear that local transport models will be used for individual schemes and appropriate sensitivity testing needs to happen to consider the impact of uncertainties," it adds.

The NPS must be debated in Parliament before it can be formally designated.

National policy statement for national networks is available here.

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