EUROPE - The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the UK government to inject "a sense of urgency" and flexibility into the UK planning system.

In a nine-point plan, the UK employers' organisation claimed the infrastructure system needed fine-tuning to accelerate decision-making and encourage investment.

Although the report's authors said recent changes - those contained in the 2008 Planning Act - had made the system more efficient and boosted investor confidence, they urged the government to "introduce more flexibility and a sense of urgency into the system", including by clearing pre-application logjams created by current inefficiencies in the system.

The CBI wants the government to reduce pre-planning application uncertainty, pointing to 52 pipeline projects including wind farms, nuclear power stations and transport upgrades that have not yet reached application stage.

The build-up of pre-application projects suggests "uneasiness about making decisions", according to the report.

Once planners have granted permission, the CBI wants new flexibility built into the system that will allow some details of applications to remain indeterminate until a relatively late stage.

CBI deputy director-general Neil Bentley suggested current inefficiencies in the UK planning system would discourage institutional investors doubtful whether they could rely on the system to deliver timely decisions.

Holding off on "minor tweaks" to the system ahead of an expected review of infrastructure planning due in 2014 would represent a lost opportunity, he said.

Among the potentially controversial recommendations is the suggestion that commercially sensitive information be held back until initial decisions have been made on planning applications.

Under the current system, any question a business asks in relation to a proposed project is immediately published, even if the development is unlikely to happen.

According to the CBI, the result is to deter prospective developers from seeking guidance for fear of provoking a public campaign.

Also potentially controversial will be a recommendation that developers become involved in the training of planning officers "where appropriate".