New planning rules covering inquiries for large-scale electricity projects will be overhauled, the UK’s trade and industry minister Alistair Darling has announced.

The proposed measures will include setting specific timeframes for local authorities to object to power projects and allowing inspectors to insist only summaries of evidence are read out, to cut inquiry length.

Darling said: “On average when a planning inquiry is involved, large electricity projects take at least three years to be approved. That isn’t good enough for our energy needs.”

It is thought reforms to the planning rules will ease the passage of controversial projects, particularly new nuclear installations, that can become bogged down with local planning committees in extraneous issues such as the wider national case for nuclear power.