PM slammed on planning appeal moves
The Prime Minister has come under attack from environmental groups and trade unions after pledging to make government work faster by streamlining equality rules and legal red tape.
David Cameron told business leaders that opponents of planning decisions and policies would be given less time to apply for judicial review, face higher fees and see the chances to appeal halved, while Equality Impact Assessments would no longer be compulsory.
Speaking at the CBI conference in London, Mr Cameron said judicial review had become a "massive growth industry" which was delaying action and costing taxpayers too much money.
"We urgently needed to get a grip on this. So here's what we're going to do: reduce the time limit when people can bring cases; charge more for reviews - so people think twice about time-wasting."
He said he was "calling time" on Government departments having to make Equality Impact Assessments, adding: "We have smart people in Whitehall who consider equalities issues while they're making the policy. We don't need all this extra tick-box stuff."
But the speech drew an angry response from equality and green campaigners. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said most judicial reviews related to immigration cases, and of those related to planning, a number were actually brought by developers as well as local authorities or the Government itself.
Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "The clock is currently turning back on women's rights and the Prime Minister has today abolished one of the key tools we have in place for not only defending them but for ensuring we make the most of women's talents and potential in repairing the UK's economy.
"The 80% male ministerial list, and 65% male Whitehall machine, will now have little if any reason to think about the impact of their policies on women's everyday lives."
Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Against the backdrop of the threat of a triple dip recession, this is a clear attempt to restrict ordinary people's rights to question and challenge this Tory-led Government's unfair and damaging cuts that so obviously are not working.
"Taken together, these further restrictions on the public's involvement in policy-making expose the lie that this government of millionaires is in any way interested in being open and transparent."