Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Infrastructure Bill

The proposed bill would improve how we fund, plan, manage and maintain our national infrastructure. 

The Infrastructure Bill would provide a £2.6 billion boost to the economy over the next 10 years by:

  • improving the funding and management of our major roads
  • streamlining the planning process for major projects
  • protecting our infrastructure from invasive plants and animals
  • supporting house building
  • making it easier and cheaper to register land and property
  • helping communities become stakeholders in renewable electricity projects

The bill and its supporting documents are on the Parliament website.

The main elements of the bill are:

Roads

The bill would turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. It would also provide for stable, long term funding for national strategic road infrastructure projects, to create and repair the motorways and major A routes that support the economy. It would create units within Passenger Focus and the Office of Rail Regulation to represent the interests of road users and to monitor the company’s performance. The response to consultation on these measures was published in April 2014. We have conducted an impact assessment on these measures and considered thecase for the creation of an arms-length body.

Invasive non-native species

The bill would provide more power to control the invasive, non-native species that pose serious threats to biodiversity, the water environment and infrastructure. This was one of the measures looked at by the Law Commission consultation paper on wildlife law in 2012, and theirsubsequent report of February 2014.

Nationally significant infrastructure projects

The bill would simplify and speed up measures introduced in the Planning Act 2008 for handling minor changes to existing planning permissions for major projects. It would also simplify the processes for more significant changes.

The bill would allow the examining authority, a group of inspectors who consider major applications, to be appointed immediately after an application has been accepted. It would also allow the panel to comprise 2 inspectors, speeding up the process and saving money.

More details can be found in the consultation on these measures of nationally significant infrastructure planning.

Deemed discharge for certain planning conditions

The bill would allow certain types of planning conditions to be regarded as discharged if a local planning authority has not notified the applicant of their decision within a prescribed time period. This will reduce unnecessary delay and costs. A consultation on the detailed operation of this proposal will be published shortly.

Public sector land assets

The bill would permit land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). This would reduce bureaucracy, manage land more effectively, and get more homes built.

The bill would make sure that future purchasers of land owned by HCA and the Greater London Authority (GLA) will be able to develop and use land without being affected by easements and other rights and restrictions suspended by the agency. Sometimes land owned by HCA and GLA has easements or rights and restrictions from its previous use. At the momentHCA and the GLA can suspend these, but not pass that suspension on. The bill would make sure that purchasers of this land would also benefit from the suspension.

Land Registry

The bill would also allow Land Registry to take on statutory responsibility for the Local Land Charges register and an extension of powers would also allow Land Registry to play a wider role in the property market. Consultation on these measures took place between January and March 2014.

Energy

The bill would also give communities the right to buy a stake in their local renewable electricity scheme – the community electricity right – so that they can own a greater share of the financial benefits.

Channel website: https://www.icaew.com

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