16/10/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


16/10/2011

Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.


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Should something like this be built on the Cumbrian countryside? We

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consider whether nuclear waste should be buried.

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Should local people be turned into planners? We will be finding out in

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1499 seconds

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Will it work? I will be finding out. First a new generation of power

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stations is being considered including one in Cumbria and one on

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Tyneside. There is no reason to haul them on safety grounds that

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there is another obstacle. One option is building an

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underground store in Cumbria. Our reporter went with a delegation of

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local councillors to France. On a mission far from home.

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Councillors deep underground at a Councillors deep underground at a

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Councillors deep underground at a Councillors deep underground at a

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laboratory in France. On all sides an extensive network.

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500 metres below ground. Behind me excavation workers are digging into

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rocks to see if it might be suitable for the long-term storage

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of nuclear waste. This facility will never store or

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radioactive waste. But by 2025 the French government hopes to build a

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repository in their eyrie at. It is an eye opener. It gives us a

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feel of what could occur. The size of the tunnels is massive. It is

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like starting gate. But there is no doubting the importance of the

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decision. In the 1990s the British government tried and failed to find

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a site for burying a high-level nuclear waste. This time the

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politicians needed to get it right. Geology is geology. We need a

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solution that is safe and accepted by everybody. We need a consensus.

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We need to have an agreement around this project. This is a long-term

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project. This project will last a minimum of 200 years. That is the

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concern for those who oppose underground storage. TRANSLATION:

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there are a number of arguments. What is important is to make sure

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that nuclear waste is not buried. That will never be fully researched,

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will pollute for a long time and be hard to control. Deep disposal is

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sweeping it under the carpet. in Cumbria environmentally

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activists are finding it hard to believe the region is once again

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being considered. This is crazy. It is taking us back to their position

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we were in at 20 years ago when the dump was supposed to be forced on

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us. Now we are in the same position but it looks as if the local

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authorities have volunteer. All investigations were done all that

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time ago culminating in a public inquiry into a rock laboratory and

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it was thrown at it because we were a totally unsuitable area. So where

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will always be buried? No site have been specified, but this map has

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been published showing sites in of red that will not be suitable. That

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means some of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District National

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Park have not been ruled out. For the politicians their visit to

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France has focused their thoughts. The laboratory was the one thing

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that stood out. We want to carry out borehole work if the community

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take the decision to move forward. What is now in my mind is something

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like a laboratory would be a boost. The Community could see first hand

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the work and the Test and it would happen. In the spring the councils

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will decide whether to press ahead to the next stage of the process.

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The Government would like to find a solution soon, but critics are

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hoping the complex geology of Cumbria will still be found wanting.

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Should Cumbria be considered as the site for banning high-level nuclear

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waste? We have somebody who used to work

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in the nuclear industry with us and we have a Conservative MP.

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I know you think this is a good thing for Cumbria. Is it just about

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jobs? It is not just about jobs. If you look at the history of nuclear

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waste and storage it has been beset by short-termism. A succession of

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governments have not wanted to deal with the problem. It is in the best

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long-term interests of everybody in the county and my own constituents

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that we do move ahead with the deep geological facility should that

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area be suitable. That is all very well, but if a West Cumbrian side

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had been considered in the past and ruled out as an say, what has

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changed? That is not true. I worked in the nuclear industry and work

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for the agency that was responsible for exploring that facility in the

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1990s. The nature of the geology of any airier actually changes that

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engineering challenge which the project would present. There is a

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number of fundamental misconceptions surrounding this

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issue. This would not be a bump as some claim. It would not be buried

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in that kind of a motor cents. It would be a deep underground store.

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That is better for the storage of radioactive waste. I do not think

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there is another plan on this. The most eminent minds in the country

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have looked at it over a long period of time and this is the best

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way forward. There has to be suspicion that Cumbria is chosen

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because it has an association with the nuclear industry and that might

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override any concerns about geology that really did come up last time.

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Those concerns cannot be overridden. I would not let them be over ridden.

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Everybody a matter where they are in relation to the industry would

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let that happen. It is a technical and sophisticated process. This is

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something that we now need to get on with. I have made the case to

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successive governments and to the current Government regarding a

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repository be there in 2040. I have called for 2025. The government

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thinks they can do it by 2029. Time is of the essence. The longer we

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leave it the more it will cost. there a danger of the tail wagging

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the dog? Are be rushing with undue haste just so that we can build a

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new generation of nuclear power stations. It is quite the opposite.

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Successive governments have failed to get to grips with this over many

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decades. We have a huge amount of using nuclear material, nuclear

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waste, which is currently stored above ground. It has to be guarded

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at great cost. The government are working to find a solution. We have

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cross-party consensus. They're working with local communities will

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stop the are insuring everything is done properly. Somebody said that

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the legacy of the waste is �2 billion pair waste to store it. And

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that is why we should not go down this route. We cannot rely on any

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one source. The there is a huge legacy that we're having to deal

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with now. That suggests it is not achievable. It is not achievable

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with electricity. It is comparable with other forms of using

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electricity. We are looking for a generation X. We are not ruling out

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any one form of generation. If we do not get to grips with this the

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light will go out. This is not optional. We have to build new

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nuclear power plant and power plants and other sorts to keep the

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lights on. The film that we saw suggested that this its areas

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suitable could be in the middle of a national park. Is that acceptable

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question mark we will have to wait and see. We will have to have those

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detailed discussions. We will have to acknowledge that that that was

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the case then it would not be as if anybody was going to dig and nine

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chat right in the middle of the National Park and access any kind

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of repository in the middle of a national park. The access would be

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potentially above the Sellafield site. And National Park, a

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priceless asset, would have tons of nuclear waste underneath it.

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completely except that people would be concerned about that and the

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dialogue surrounding this, let us not forget that this is based upon

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the principle of voluntarism, which is essential here. The entire

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process these to be open and transparent. I want to get involved

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in a properly informed and engage dialogue with anybody who has any

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concerns. How confident are you that the public will be consulted

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on this? The council is involved but will the public get a say?

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can see that already. We have seen that with the history of these

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sorts of projects. When previous governments have looked at

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solutions to this problem invariably in some areas there has

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been opposition that has been listened to and that is one reason

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why we have not yet sold it. It clear and active community

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engagement. At this early stage people are engaging with it and

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talking about it. I do not see any reason to doubt that. Thank you.

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Most people would welcome having a greater say in what goes on. Also

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when it comes to building new houses or wind farms. It seems the

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Government agrees. It has set up pilot schemes. That will give

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locals more control over neighbourhood planning. What does

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that mean? Will we get the powers? Northumberland. You might think

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this is sleepy, but the village cafe is not just in brewing tea.

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All of the things... The villagers are here to take part in what could

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be a people power revolution. It is a pilot is rare for a government

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project. They will draw up what they want and do not want in their

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community. We are the people live here. We have to use the services.

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Our children go to school here. It is fundamental that we have the

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real understanding of what we need and what the ex bet for the future

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in relation to services and developments. It is fundamental

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that we are involved in this. Rather than being a wish-list the

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plan will have to be taken into account the never any development

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is taking into account. But there is a limit to this. Under one of

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these schemes a parish can more or less decide what it wants to do

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itself and cut itself adrift from the rest of the country.

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Unfortunately it cannot do that. It must at here to national planning

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guidelines. Hopefully some of the things that a more local level we

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can influence. Important things such as local housing, site for

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small businesses. But the new national planning policy that the

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plans of the parish will have to fit into might not suit every

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community. But national policy will include a presumption of favour in

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regard to sustainable developments in the countryside. For those that

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do not want some plans there is a fear that the parish plan will not

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be worth the paper it is written on. The problem we have at the present

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time is that the government is only encouraging it if local communities

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are minded to do development, do what the government wants. If they

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are wanting to protect their own environment as it is and prevent

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development, I do not think that the neighbourhood planning will

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have them at all. There are is that would like development. This area

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in North Shields is another test bed. These local people are part of

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a group beginning to draw up what it wants. More regeneration is top

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of the last. We are looking at run- down areas. There are buildings

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that have been vacant for a number of years. Nobody knows what to do

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with them. The community can decide what to do. We are being invited

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and encouraged to get people in to advise as on issues and constraints.

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By bringing us all together and getting a feeling for it, we may

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not become professional planners, but potentially we will understand

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the issues better if. Even the will there is some people power in

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evidence it is being underpinned with a lot of support by the local

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council - support that can only be offered because it is only

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happening in a few pilot areas. question arises if it is to be

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rolled it out beyond the pilot stage and that question is can

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councils possibly support them all? They cannot do that in the level of

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support there are giving to the pilot. To what extent is it a

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diversion from other things that are important that the present

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time? Few people are likely to quibble about communities directing

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their own destinies, but there will be a debate about whether

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neighbourhood planning can deliver their kind of power that the

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government promises? This is just part of the

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government's locals an agenda which also includes things such as free

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school set up by parents, and elected mayors. Let us see what our

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panellists think. If you want to protect what you

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have got this could be useless could it not? We have to

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acknowledge the rare starting from. At the moment planners and local

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authorities have a local development framework which is

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effectively a big neighbourhood plan for the council a rare. We are

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giving powers to local communities to have more of a say in how that

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development framework is going to proceed. What it will look like and

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what it means for the community. We cannot say, and the Government

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could not say, we will go Communities power so there will be

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no more developments no matter what. What we're saying is that there

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should be greater consultation. This is a welcome step in that

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direction. The message coming from David Cameron is that if you want

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to get in the wake of these -- get out of the way of those

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developments go down to the JobCentre. Those that do not want a

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wind farm, the do not have the power. It is about allowing

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communities to influence what happens. The wind farm, houses?

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you are resident in a small village the first time you might know about

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the possibility of houses being built has been and will does goes

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on the lamp-post by which time it is too late to influence that

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decision. This is now an opportunity to your parish council,

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town council, or local body of residents, to influence that at a

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local level at an earlier stage. This is giving local people control

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over how their area develops. might quibble with the detail, but

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is the principle of giving more people a stake the right one?

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problem with this proposal is that it is essentially seeking to give

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power to people which they already have. The problems with the

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planning process and this country is that it takes too long, and it

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is too slow. That can that their investment. I would be supportive

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of any development that allows planning to be brought forward more

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quickly. Bringing it forward more quickly does not make it more

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responsive to people unnecessarily. It could be the opposite. That is

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true. It could be the opposite. But the principle of involving more

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people and planning is absolutely right. To these proposals do that?

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I do not think so. If anybody wanted to contribute towards

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planning proposals within the system as it can understand then

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there is lot of scope to do that. One of the problems I think, and I

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think the trials show this, is that a lot of resources will be taken

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away from local planning authorities to make sure that these

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trials work or at least show some signs of success. That is the

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problem. Local authorities do not have enough resources. They do not

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have enough people to make sure that they can properly influence

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decisions. You're a going to trying to us across the country but that

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will not work. I do not accept that. Extra resources have been given to

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the pilot areas so that these schemes can be pushed through and

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assessed and the government can make an informed decision. You do

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not have enough planning officers? You do not have to have all of

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their extra resources to develop and neighbourhood plan. People

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would quibble with that because these need to be legally binding

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plans and you cannot mess with them they must be a support network.

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course they need support mechanism. The problem of planning at the

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moment is that it is complicated. People look at it and say that is

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not for me. I do not feel I have a saying that. What the Government is

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doing is simplified planning, passing more control to people in

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those communities. There are committees in my constituency that

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are well down the track. People are doing a brilliant job of pulling

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together a committee plan. That will allow them to influence their

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village. Is the reality not that middle-class committees have time

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and power and only they will do this. It is hard to see people

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doing this in places where people are struggling to make a living.

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find that sort of talk condescending. This is an

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opportunity for anybody wants to engage. Where other communities

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that this is happening? There are 17 pilot areas. We hear this time

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and time again. This will only benefit people who choose to engage

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and only middle-class people will benefit. We hear this time and time

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