Planning in the Media

The government's grand plan for bringing forward vital transport infrastructure to boost the economy has already hit a bottleneck.

The Independent pointed to the DfT's bid to push through the widening of a stretch of the A11 in East Anglia first proposed by prime minister Ted Heath 37 years ago. "Lengthy planning and consultation procedures make the speeding up of projects difficult and many in the planning field doubt that major building schemes will be able to play a substantial role in boosting the economy."

The Observer interviewed Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, which starts work next week. He acknowledged that the present model for delivering affordable homes is bust and wants councils and smaller companies to start building. Pension funds must finance homes to rent while schemes that let homeowners rent and buy at a later date will be introduced. "Our role is to be ahead of the game," he told the paper. "But the pace and depth of this crisis proved hard to get the measure of."

One such uncomfortable measure, according to The Daily Telegraph, comes courtesy of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which reported an 11 per cent increase in households evicted in the three months to the end of September. The total of 11,300 repossessions equates to 120 a day.

An area the size of Wales would need to be covered in wind turbines to meet just a sixth of the UK's daily energy needs, according to The Sunday Telegraph. The paper cited research by University of Cambridge physics professor David MacKay, who claims that current plans to build wind farms with a capacity of 14GW on land and a further 33GW offshore would only produce enough energy to provide each person in the UK with 6kWh a day when average use is 125kWh a day. Mackay said ministers would have to look at other forms of alternative energy, especially tidal power, to meet renewables targets.

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reported on a poll of UK business leaders finding that 95 per cent believe that expansion at Heathrow Airport "would not make much difference". Continental Research revealed that just four per cent thought a third runway would benefit the UK while 37 per cent preferred a high-speed rail link from Heathrow to the north of England and Europe.

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