Week commencing 28 May 2018

In today's bulletin

• Review of National Parks launched
• UK needs more high speed railways

• Inquiry launched into Government’s commitment to carbon capture techniques
• Density and small sites championed as vehicles for housing growth

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Review of National Parks launched

A new wave of national parks in England could be created after Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, launched a review of the protected areas.
Announced on 27 May, the review – which will also consider areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) – will focus on how to boost wildlife, support recovery of natural habitats and strengthen the areas’ role in growing the rural economy. The review will also explore how access to these areas can be improved and how those who live and work there can be better supported.

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Density and small sites championed as vehicles for housing growth

A “new way of thinking about density” is needed to reach the draft New London Plan’s target of 65,000 new homes a year, according to Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, James Murray.
At the New London Architecture’s (NLA) bi-annual Housing Update on 29 May, Mr Murray spoke of the need for an increased focus on smaller sites to deal with capacity issues in London. The Deputy Mayor announced that new supplementary design guidance for the London boroughs would be published later this year to support this new approach.

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Sales of new homes in England and Wales up in April

The sale of newly built homes in England and Wales increased in April, HM Land Registry’s monthly Price Paid Data report has revealed.
Out of a total 78,408 sales in April, 11,758 were newly built, which is a 28.2 per cent increase on April 2017. The figures, which were published on 30 May, also showed that the total number of land and property purchases was down from both February (85,249) and March (90,284).

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UK needs more high speed railways

101 miles of new high speed rail lines should be implemented across the UK by 2040 to improve productivity and connectivity, says a report from campaign group Greengauge 21.
Beyond HS2, published on 28 May, calls for a transformation of the national network, recommending an overhaul to the current London-centric “hub-and-spoke” system by developing HS2 from a ‘Y’ to an ‘X’ shape to service more regions across the country. Other recommendations in the report include a major overhaul of the East Coast Mainline and the introduction of a new rail connection between Kent and Essex.

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Energy and environment

Inquiry launched into Government’s commitment to carbon capture techniques

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry into carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and the Government’s commitment to deploying the environmental sustainability technology. The Government has previously stated that it has ambitious plans to use CCUS technologies – which can effectively isolate carbon dioxide from harmful waste gases – to meet its climate change targets, however the budget for kickstarting their use in the UK has been cut from £1bn to £100m.
The inquiry will assess the Government’s commitment to using the technologies in the future, the obstacles to CCUS becoming established in the UK and whether there is a “plan B” in place should the Government decide that CCUS is not a viable financial option. The inquiry is currently inviting submissions before the deadline of 22 June 2018.

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New taskforce launched to boost electric vehicle infrastructure

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new taskforce aimed at improving availability of electric vehicle infrastructure across the capital to help curb air pollution levels.
Until now the majority of electric vehicle infrastructure has been delivered by Transport for London, however the Mayor’s new taskforce, which was announced on 31 May, will work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the expansion. A shared delivery plan, mapping out the collaborative working between the public and private sector, will be published next year.

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Government launches nitrogen dioxide reduction consultation

On 29 May 2018, the Government launched a consultation on nitrogen dioxide with 33 local authorities to help tackle roadside air pollution levels in England.
Local authorities will identify measures to address nitrogen dioxide air pollution and submit these proposals for consideration by the Government by 31 July 2018.

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Standardisation will boost emerging offshore wind markets

The competitiveness of offshore wind in emerging energy markets must be driven by the development and adoption of international standards, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has found.
Published on 31 May, Nurturing offshore wind markets: good practices for international standardisation states that a global framework will be key to unlocking uptake outside of the established European market by sharing best practice from industry leaders like the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany. Currently, 19 gigawatts of installed capacity exists worldwide, concentrated in Europe, with IRENA targeting 500 gigawatts of global capacity by 2050.

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Other News

Differing performance of two service sectors highlighted by survey

The latest CBI Service Sector Survey has shown strong growth for the business and professional services sector in the three months to May, while the consumer service sector has struggled. The quarterly findings, published on 30 May, highlighted that business volumes among business and professional services companies grew at their fastest rate since August 2015, which was reflected by a 14 per cent increase in confidence levels in the sector – the largest increase since 2017.
Following solid growth in the previous quarter, volumes deteriorated in the consumer services sector, and combined with surging costs to hit the sector’s profits. Consumer services companies have, however, indicated that they are expecting growth to return next quarter.

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