Labour would speed up planning for major infrastructure, Reeves to say

A Labour government would accelerate the planning process for critical national infrastructure as part of plans to revive the sluggish economy, Rachel Reeves will say.

The shadow chancellor will use her speech at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool on Monday to pledge that the party will overhaul the UK’s “antiquated planning system” in order to “get Britain building again”.

Decision times for major infrastructure projects have increased by 65% since 2012, now taking four years, she will say, promising a “once-in-a-generation” set of reforms to speed this up.

These would detail what types of projects the country needs while weaving considerations about economic growth and net zero into the planning system, according to Labour.

Planning applications would be fast-tracked for battery factories, laboratories and 5G infrastructure.

Labour would also tackle time-consuming litigation by setting clearer national guidance for developers on consulting local communities and provide a menu of potential incentives such as cheaper energy bills to help local communities welcome clean energy projects.

Ms Reeves is expected to say: “If we want to spur investment, restore economic security and revive growth, then we must get Britain building again.

“The Tories would have you believe we can’t build anything any more. In fact, the single biggest obstacle to building infrastructure, to investment and to growth in this country is the Conservative Party itself.

“If the Tories won’t build, if the Tories can’t build, then we will. Taking head-on the obstacles presented by our antiquated planning system.

“So, today, I am announcing our plans to get Britain building. A once-in-a-generation set of reforms to accelerate the building of critical infrastructure for energy, transport and technology. To fast-track battery factories, life sciences and 5G infrastructure, and to tackle the litigation which devours time and money before we ever see shovels in the ground.

“And to make sure that when a local community hosts critical national infrastructure, they will feel the benefits, including lower energy bills.”

But the Tories criticised Labour for its recent opposition to Government plans to relax environmental rules in order to boost housebuilding.

Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “If Labour had any intention of making long-term reform, they would support new building projects – instead, just weeks ago, they tried to block our plans to build 100,000 new homes.

“Labour’s only plan to grow the economy is to borrow an extra £28 billion a year, increasing debt and inflation.”

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