New Forest East


House of Commons 6 September 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: May I ask the Secretary of State to focus specifically on his brief reference to major infrastructure projects? The greatest threat to my constituency, in all my years representing it, was the prospect of a huge container port being built on sensitive land on the edge of the New Forest at Dibden Bay. That was ruled out after a year-long public inquiry. Is my right hon. Friend saying that in future such decisions will be taken more quickly, but that the bar that has to be crossed to reach agreement will remain as high as it was in the past?

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles): Of course the process will remain balanced. We introduced the presumption in favour of sustainable development so that the balance between the environment, business and heritage could be finely drawn. As somebody who sees planning inspectors’ reports reasonably regularly – a joy that my hon. Friends the new Ministers will now have – I know that they are clearly taking very seriously the mechanism of looking at those three pillars of sustainable development.