As I write this we are debating the Government's latest changes to the planning system. Its aim is to speed up approval of key infrastructure projects that are considered to be in the national interest.

You know the type of thing that we all love to have on our doorstep - airports; nuclear power stations; new roads. Now I fully agree that we take too long over decisions such as Terminal 5. Arguably we have something to learn from the French who do firm timetables and understand the need for compelling local incentives.

However, in our need for quicker decisions we must not compromise on the need to ensure that the voice of the local community is heard. It's in this context I am very concerned about the route the Government is going down. It wants to farm out the tough decisions to an unelected and expensive new quango that is not accountable to the communities affected.

This has profound implications for us in Hillingdon because it looks as if this body will have a major say on the planning decision to expand Heathrow. I find this unacceptable. Given the enormous impact of that decision on the borough; the voice of the local planning authority must be paramount.

We must be able to hold the decision makers to account and this is an undemocratic step in the wrong direction. Coming on top of an utterly discredited consultation exercise, it is no surprise that people are so disillusioned with the political process and despair about their ability to shape the decisions that make such a big difference to our quality of life.