Week commencing 22 July 2019

In today's bulletin

• Prime Minister appoints new cabinet
• Government fails to provide land to ease housing crisis

• Network Rail set net biodiversity challenge
• Government announces consultation to prioritise decarbonised energy

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Government fails to provide land to ease housing crisis

The Government is set to miss key targets for the disposal of state-owned land earmarked for housing development and must “set out a decisive course of action” to help ease the housing crisis. In a report published on 24 July by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, analysis shows that well over half of the 160,000 homes promised under the Land for New Homes Target will not be provided.
The committee labelled the findings ‘disappointing’ but argued the targets were unrealistic from the outset.

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Government opens consultation on rental proposals

The Government has opened a consultation on its plans to redistribute powers within the UK rented sector. From 21 July, the consultation invites views on potential changes including the repeal of section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which allows tenants to be evicted without good reason, and strengthening the section 8 eviction process to make it easier for landlords to regain their property.
Other areas open for feedback include the ability of landlords to grant assured shorthold tenancies and how the process for repossession orders could be streamlined.

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Mayor of London’s proposed rent reforms challenged

On 19 July, the British Property Federatoin (BPF) criticised the Mayor of London’s call to rent controls in London and a universal register of landlords as part of a package of reforms to the rental market. The BPF argue the changes will lead to fewer homes being built, drive up rent and undermine the reason for rent controls in the first place.
While supporting a universal register of landlords, the BPF argues this needs to be introduced nationally and that, in general, a different tenancy model in London to the rest of the country “makes no sense.”

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Radical reforms proposed to tackle housing crisis

A radical package of free-market reforms is needed to tackle the housing crisis, according to a new report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and co-authored by the Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP. Published on 22 July, Raising the roof: How to solve the United Kingdom’s housing crisis attributes Britain’s housing crisis to “distortive taxation” and the “most centralised planning system” in the world.
The report calls for large sections of the Green Belt to be declassified and VAT on property restorations to be reduced. Mr Rees-Mogg also calls for a new ‘Right to buy’ for government land, under which residents could demand the sale of properties identified for release.

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Impact of Help to Buy adjustments on local authorities

A report by property specialists, Cushman & Wakefield, has identified the 24 local authorities that could be worst affected by the Government’s adjustment to the Help to Buy scheme in 2021.
Published on 23 July, Future of Demand assesses the consequences of a maximum value cap being established for each region and concludes that there is a danger of creating a ‘cliff edge’ in areas with high and low caps – with particular concern for the south east and midlands. The report suggests a follow-on scheme will be essential to maintain levels of demand.

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Transport

Network Rail set net biodiversity challenge

Network Rail has been told it must achieve no net loss in biodiversity by 2024 along the 20,000km of railway it owns and manages in the UK. The target was set by the Department for Transport (DfT) in a strategy paper published on 23 July, which also requires Network Rail to achieve a net gain by 2040.
Network Rail is expected to follow best practice in habitat management and to work with lineside neighbours, local landowners and environmental groups to ensure its 52,000 hectare estate achieves the objectives.

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Railways crucial to UK achieving carbon neutral goals

Battery power, hydrogen fuel cells and electrification will all help Britain’s railways play a crucial role in the UK economy decarbonising by 2050, according to the Final Report to the Minister for Rail by the Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce.
Published on 22 July, the report claims over 3,000 carriages or vehicles using diesel will need to be replaced and that electrification of key routes will be the most cost-effective option.

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Transport checklist launched for new developments

Too many new housing developments in the UK are dependent on residents using cars, with not enough consideration given to opportunities for cycling, walking or using public transport. The accusation was made on 22 July by campaign group Transport for New Homes during the launch of its new checklist targeted at local authorities and developers.
The report sets out ten areas for change, including better integration of walking, cycling and public transport within the early stage designing of new developments, and calls for inadequate proposals to be rejected all together.

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Energy and Environment

Government announces consultation to prioritise decarbonised energy

The Government has launched a consultation into how a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model for nuclear projects could be implemented within the current energy systems. Launching the consultation on 22 July, then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP highlighted that the aim of the new model will be to reduce the cost and risks associated with such projects and to pass savings on to consumers.
Mr Clark cited decarbonising the energy system as a key step towards the Government’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.

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Carbon plans open for consultation

On 22 July, the Government launched a consultation on its plans for the future of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS). The process invites views on a range of issues including potential business models for industry, power and carbon dioxide transport and storage, and a suggested framework for evaluating models for hydrogen production.
It will also consider the possible challenges of implementing CCUS on a large scale. The consultation runs until 16 September.

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Low-carbon energy generation hits record

Low-carbon energy was used to generate more than half of the electricity used in the UK for the first time last year, according to the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics, published on 25 July.
Renewable energy generated a record 33 per cent in 2018, up 10 per cent on the year before, and made up almost 52.6 per cent of generation in 2018 when combined with low-carbon nuclear energy. In the same week, figures were released by Drax showing that carbon emissions from electricity fell to a record 97 per kWh, breaking the previous record of 104 per kWh.

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Other News

Prime Minister appoints new cabinet

New Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has overhauled the cabinet with several leading Brexiteers taking up key roles. Fellow Conservative leadership contender, Sajid Javid, is the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, while Andrea Leadsom becomes Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Robert Jenrick, previously a junior minister in the Treasury, becomes the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He will be supported by Esther McVey, the new Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and Jake Berry, who moves across from BEIS to become Housing, Communities and Local Government Minister.

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ICE sets out hopes for National Infrastructure Strategy

The Institution of Civil Engineers has set out its hopes for the Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, calling for a linked-up strategic approach to national infrastructure projects to accommodate increased demand on the sector.
Published on 22 July, ‘What should be in the National Infrastructure Strategy?’ calls for new approaches to funding and financing infrastructure, including a ‘pay as you go’ model for England’s road network. The ICE also urged the Government to adopt new digital technologies and methods of construction to improve infrastructure delivery.

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Brexit continues to hamper manufacturing output

Manufacturing output dropped in the quarter to July and investment plans have weakened, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry. Published on 23 July, the quarterly Industrial Trends Survey shows the sharpest decline in new orders since the financial crisis, order books at their weakest since 2010 and an overall fall in export optimism.
However, output volumes are expected to increase in the next three months, along with new orders and employee numbers.

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