On 12 February 2015, the new Infrastructure Act became law. It introduced new measures intended '...to make it easier, quicker and simpler to get Britain building’.
The act will:
- Make the Highways Agency a government-owned company, Highways England, with long-term funding and more accountable to Parliament and road users.
- Allow surplus and redundant public sector land and property to be sold more quickly, increasing the amount of previously-developed land available for new homes.
- Prevent excessive delays on projects which have been granted planning permission by introducing a new ‘deemed discharge’ provision on planning conditions.
- Allow the Land Registry to create a digitised local land charges register to improve access to data, standardise fees and improve turnaround times.
- Allow the Land Registry to undertake new services to improve the conveyancing process.
- Give local communities the right to buy a stake in renewable energy infrastructure projects.
- Improve energy security and economic growth by extracting domestic shale gas.
- Create a cycling and walking investment strategy.
- Improve the nationally significant infrastructure regime by making administrative improvements to the Planning Act 2008.
- Permit the creation of an allowable solutions scheme to provide a cost effective way for house builders to meet the zero carbon homes obligation.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This act will hugely boost Britain’s competitiveness in transport, energy provision, housing development and nationally significant infrastructure projects…. A key part of this act will be the creation of Highways England, which will for the first time use long-term sustained funding to deliver the government’s roads investment strategy, worth £15 billion, to deliver more than 100 schemes between now and the end of the next Parliament.”
The act was published by the Department for Transport on behalf of the Land Registry, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
NB on 10 July 2015, the government published ‘Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation’ a government plan for increasing Britain’s productivity. Amongst a great number of wide-ranging changes, the report states, 'The government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, but will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established.'
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