PLANS for a radical shake-up of planning laws are a recipe for disaster' according to Ilkley planning chiefs.

A new Government White Paper has outlined the intention of Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly to replace large planning inquiries with a national independent commission.

Critics argue that the proposed Bill will make it easier to force through major unpopular developments like airport extensions and power stations by removing the rights of local people to object.

The plans have been drawn up as a response to schemes such as the Heathrow Terminal Five and the North Yorkshire National Grid upgrade, both of which took seven years of public hearings to get approval.

According to a briefing paper produced by planning consultant Turley Associates - a firm which handles many planning applications in Ilkley - major road, airport, water, sewage and energy infrastructure will come under the new streamlined system.

At the other end of the development scale, the White Paper also contains other alterations to planning laws to make it possible to build minor extensions or conservatories without the need for planning permission where there is judged to be little impact on neighbours.

But according to the chairman of the Keighley Area Planning Panel the proposals have been ill-thought out.

Councillor Chris Greaves (Con, Wharfedale) said: "What they are doing is saying we will let you build a conservatory as long as you don't care about the nuclear power station down the road.

"The main issue is that in a number of cases the so-called minor extension will have a dramatic impact on people."

Since 1995 the number of private planning applications has more than doubled to almost 333,000-a-year and Ministers say they are costly and cumbersome for home owners.

Under the new system, according to the report from the Leeds-based Turley Associates: "Some domestic developments would be assessed on the basis of considering their visual impact and potential for overlooking, with permission automatically granted if there was no impact found."

But Coun Greaves said that in many cases private permitted development rights existed allowing minor extensions to be built without having to go through the formal planning system. Coun Greaves said that if the changes were implemented there would still be an issue over who decided how much impact extensions and conservatories had on neighbouring properties.

"If it is the planners who decide, it is going to be the same system with a different name but I shudder to think it may be the conservatory salesman telling home owners it is not going to have an impact.

"It will lead to all sorts of litigation and will cost far more money than it does now," said Coun Greaves.

Ilkley district and parish councillor Anne Hawkesworth, who as environment chief at City Hall is in charge of planning, said: "I think it is a recipe for disaster.

"We will be covering everywhere indiscriminately and not taking any notice of other people."