Memorandum submitted by Network Rail (PB 19)

 

Network Rail supports the bill's aim to improve the efficiency of national, regional and local planning systems and reduce delays. We support the creation of a single, unified consent regime for major national projects and the establishment of an Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), with rail within its remit.

 

Network Rail amendment proposals

Network Rail will be seeking assurances on the following matters during the Planning Bill's passage through committee stage-

Ensuring Network Rail is able to carry out improvements or renewals for which there is existing consent without the need for consent under the bill- Network Rail relies upon Permitted Development Rights (over a thousand uses per year) to maintain and renew the railway. As drafted, the bill does not seem to preserve such rights;

Enabling Network Rail to deliver small schemes efficiently and effectively- The authorisation regime under the Transport & Works Act should be used for non nationally significant rail projects that require land acquisition to avoid overburdening the IPC. More information is needed on how the boundary between Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) and small schemes will be drawn;

Developing a National Policy Statement (NPS) for rail- A rail NPS will provide a national economic, environmental and social policy framework that will help to guide the rail industry with its future planning. We understand that the government's High Level Output Specification and Rail White Paper will be used to develop the NPS for rail. Network Rail would welcome further details on what other sources government will use to develop the rail NPS;

Clarifying the application of the bill to rail enhancements- The bill would arguably require separate authority to obtain consent for certain developments (e.g. the provision of a station or freight depot) which are integral to a large-scale railway construction. Network Rail will be seeking an assurance that it is not the government's intention to require separate consent in these circumstances;

A consistent consent approach for cross-border railway schemes- Only rail schemes wholly in England are defined as NSIPs. Network Rail operates an integrated network across England, Wales and Scotland and cross border railways should be included within the jurisdiction of the IPC;

An intelligent approach to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)- As an infrastructure provider, Network Rail should be exempt from the requirement to pay CIL. At the least, CIL revenue from railway land should be ringfenced for rail or Network Rail's infrastructure costs should be used as credit against any CIL liability on railway land. Railway projects should also be included in the list of infrastructure funded by CIL. Rail is often excluded from planning funds from councils (section 106) because local authorities view it as nationally, not locally, provided. Network Rail hope that the CIL will be used to develop the rail network. Otherwise, funds will be diverted from rail to road, contrary to government policy. Network Rail has developed local enhancement projects which could be funded through CIL to meet local rail network needs. They include modular stations, new freight connections and enhancements to track, signals and electrification.

 

January 2008