Cull of local authority plans takes effect

Legislation scrapping duties on "excellent" local authorities to prepare several types of plans and reports came into force in England in February.1

The legislation affects three types of plans and reports with an environmental content: air quality action plans under the Environment Act 1995, annual progress reports under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995, and local transport plans under the Transport Act 2000.

The move to scrap the existing requirements has been pushed through by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as "part of a package of freedoms and flexibilities" for councils which receive an "excellent" rating from their performance assessment by the Audit Commission.

The ODPM’s move did not go down well with environmental interests - including the Environment Department, which criticised the abolition of air quality action plans (ENDS Report 347, p 47 ).

The new order goes even further than the ODPM’s proposal by allowing local authorities a continuation of their plan-making holiday even if their ratings drop below "excellent". They will have a year to recover excellent status - and for local transport plans either one or two years - before the planning and reporting requirements are restored.

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