The Independent reports that “not in my backyard” protestors, or “Nimbies”, will receive “economic incentives” to drop opposition to controversial development projects, like wind farms, power plants, and transportation improvements (e.g., new roads, passenger railways or highways).
Apparently Chancellor George Osborne told business leaders in London earlier this week that the Nimby incentives, which could include tax breaks, will form just one part of a complete overhaul of UK planning rules, which he hopes will make it easier to get controversial schemes approved.
The main spur for “incentivising” Nimbies appears to be the abolition of the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the return of planning powers to local people. This move has caused developers to worry because it increases the likelihood of Nimbies holding up projects. The Chancellor hopes to ward off this risk by offering Nimbies incentives – which many activists have described as “bribes” – to win support for large infrastructure developments.
The Government hopes to replace the Infrastructure Planning Commission in 2011 by enacting the Decentralisation and Localism Bill. In the Queen’s Speech, the government promised the Bill would replace the Commission with a more “efficient and democratically accountable system” that provides a “fast-track process for major infrastructure projects”.
So what will this new system look like? Well, it seems likely that he powers currently held in the Infrastructure Planning Commission will transfer to a new Major Infrastructure Unit within the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will make recommendations on nationally significant infrastructure projects to the relevant Secretary of State for final decisions. Such decisions may, however, be subject to local referenda or council veto.
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