Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 620 - 626)



  620. Do you think the present planning process is efficient?
  (Dr Avery) It is not as efficient as it could be. That is for sure.


  621. Is it secretive or is it open?
  (Dr Brown) I think we all ought to work closely together, port industry, environmental organisations and government, to try and streamline the regulatory systems as far as one is able without diluting the environmental aspects of those regulations. The course we are on at the moment where quite a large number of port developments are going to be pursued in situations which are very environmentally sensitive, with the current framework within which we are all operating, will take us down the route of a lot of very time consuming, expensive public inquiries. I do not think it is in the ports' interests, the environmental organisations' interests or even the interests of the taxpayer, who ultimately will pay for quite a lot of these public inquiries, to go down that route.

  622. What is the quid pro quo?
  (Dr Brown) That is why English Nature is so keen for government to play a stronger leadership role in all of this.

  623. We can all say that. You can say, " I do not like what the local authorities are doing" and, "I do not like what the ports are doing." What do you want?
  (Dr Brown) I want government to undertake and publish their analysis of growth and capacity in the port industry. I want them to take a long term perspective on this issue. I want them to join up the policy making, especially in respect to integrated transport systems, because that is where ports can make a big, positive contribution. I want government to indicate the capacity demands, the sorts of areas that might be required to meet demand, and link that very positively with investment in sustainable transport systems.

  624. Just at a time when they are giving up that kind of guesswork in relation to most of their other work, particularly in things like housing, you want them to instigate it for another area of concern?
  (Dr Brown) I do not think it necessarily ends up as guesswork. I think there is a lot of information that is very useful, which one can use positively to direct investments and to join up a sustainable transport solution. I think government should seek to streamline the regulatory systems as well.

Mr Bennett

  625. Have you looked at the estimates that were made in the fifties, sixties and seventies to see how far those estimates in any way actually measure what happened?
  (Dr Brown) I have not.

  626. Would it not be a good idea just to get some idea of whether the track record in estimating these sorts of areas was any good at all?
  (Mr Morris) This is something that jointly, between ourselves and the RSPB, we are at the point of commissioning just such a study to hind cast on the work that the RSPB did back in 1997. We will certainly have a very much clearer picture of whether the forecasting processes are workable.

  Chairman: Thank you very much, gentlemen. That is very interesting and helpful.

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