Britpave: The British In-Situ Concrete Paving Association

New Specialist Planning Court Welcomed

Proposals for a new specialist planning court to help ensure that major transport infrastructure projects do not get bogged down by unnecessary legal delay have been welcomed by infrastructure group Britpave.

A package of measures forwarded by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, as part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill aims to streamline planning for major projects by preventing “meritless” judicial review applications that clog up courts and delay or even stop proposed projects.

The measures will aim to halt the rise in judicial reviews which have trebled over the last ten years to over 12,000 a year. Only individuals or groups with a financial interest in a planning case will be able to bring a challenge. Furthermore, the new measures will prevent challenges from individuals and campaigners who do not have to pay legal costs thereby leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill. Campaigners who lodge challenges will have to reveal financial backers so that courts can impose costs.

The new planning court would see judicial review decisions for major projects being undertaken by expert judges and ensure that cases would not be exploited by campaigning or publicity purposes at the expense of those with valid challenges.

“Britain needs major modernising and upgrading of its transport infrastructure. Yet increasingly challenges to infrastructure projects are preventing them from getting off the drawing board.” said James Charlesworth, Britpave Chairman. “The new reforms will hopefully streamline the planning process and encourage investment in UK infrastructure”.