Queen’s Speech: New plans on building safety and the environment
The government has unveiled “ambitious” plans on building safety, the National Infrastructure Strategy and environmental principles in the Queen’s Speech
Plans for a long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure and laws to implement new building safety standards are amongst 26 bills set out during the Queen’s Speech.
The Queen announced that new legislation would help accelerate the delivery of fast, reliable and secure broadband networks to millions of homes as part of the National Infrastructure Strategy. While, proposals on railway reform would also be brought forward.
In response to today’s Queen’s Speech, Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “Clarity on future infrastructure commitments is always helpful to investors, providing a signal as to where Government is investing.
“However, a strategy is only as good as the investment to support it and public investment is about action, not just words. The capital investment commitments of Government will therefore provide the clearer signal as to how ambitious the government is.”
A white paper was also announced during the Queen’s Speech, which will set out the government’s ambitions for unleashing regional potential in England, and to enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level.
Leech commented: “Regional devolution has been a great policy success story, but thus far pursued on a reasonably piecemeal basis.
“We support a White Paper and hope it will cover both what else should be devolved, but also a clear framework about rights and responsibilities, so more places can benefit from devolution.”
For the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law. Measures will be introduced to improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive. Legislation will also create new legally-binding environmental improvement targets. A new, independent regulator will be established in statute to scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action.
“The property industry is up for the challenge of reducing its carbon footprint. What it seeks from Government is a clear articulation of its ambitions. The package of aspirations that Government has set out today should help.
“It is important that the focus is not just on new buildings, however, but the far bigger challenge of improving the existing stock will also need to be addressed,” said Leech.
Concluding, Leech added: “The government has today set out its domestic agenda and we welcome its aspirations on the environment, infrastructure investment and greater regional devolution, plus it moving forward on building safety.
“Many of the other Bills that affect our sector, however, are predicated on Brexit and what form it takes. Until we get greater certainty on that, the sector will not have the conditions it needs to make investment decisions and that must be the priority for Government in the immediate weeks ahead.”