Relationship of National Policy Statements to existing policy

Existing policy statements on major infrastructure

Some existing statements of Government policy, such as the Air Transport White Paper, do not meet the appraisal or consultation requirements for NPSs. These current statements of national policy, before being adopted as NPSs, will have to undergo consultation, appraisal of sustainability, parliamentary scrutiny, and an explanation of how the policy takes account of Government policy on climate change.

The role of NPSs

It is possible that some NPSs may not be comprehensive, overarching documents. Some Government departments appear to view them more as guidance notes for the decision maker, which will cross-reference existing policies, such as the NPPF, and other relevant information (which could include development plans) that the decision maker will need for considering applications.

Consultation

Statutory bodies, including the Environment Agency and Natural England, are listed in regulations among bodies that will have a right to be consulted, along with local planning authorities.

NPSs and Judicial Review

Finally, the Planning Act 2008 includes provision for judicial review of an NPS in a number of circumstances:

  • Actions or omissions of the Secretary of State in preparing or reviewing an NPS.
  • A decision by the Secretary of State to review, or to not review all or part of an NPS.
  • A decision by the Secretary of State, following a review, to either amend an NPS, withdraw its designation as an NPS, or leave the NPS as it is.
  • A decision by the Secretary of State to suspend the operation of an NPS pending the completion of a review.

In such cases a claim form for judicial review must be filed as promptly as possible and within six weeks.

In general, the use of judicial review should be considered very much as a last resort as it is risky, expensive and often does not solve the problem that has prompted the action, even where a claim is successful. For more details of how the judicial review process works, see the CPRE briefing Plan B: How to challenge bad developments in court.