Week commencing 15 June 2020

In today's bulletin

• Jenrick points to Social Housing White Paper in Grenfell letter
• £12 million funding pot for EV research

• Consultation: Combined Heat and Power’s role in a net-zero future
• UK manufacturing output hits record low

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Jenrick points to Social Housing White Paper in Grenfell letter

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, sent a letter to Grenfell survivors and relatives last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the tragedy. The correspondence included an update on the Grenfell Tower inquiry and referenced the Social Housing White Paper, which is being brought forward later this year.
He acknowledged that the paper was overdue, and wrote that it will set out further measures to empower tenants and bolster the delivery of social homes. The letter also states that “key stakeholders” have been engaged as part of the paper’s preparation.

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Further guidance published for £3.6bn Towns Fund

Local leaders across the country will need to develop ambitious and robust Town Investment Plans for their areas if they want to benefit from the Government’s Towns Fund. On 15 June, the Government published additional guidance for the 100 towns from across the country that were invited to take advantage of the £3.6 billion fund initially announced in July last year.
The local leaders have until 31 July to submit their plans detailing how they would use funding to deliver urban regeneration, improve skills and enterprise infrastructure, and enhance connectivity.

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Twelve-month rate of rent increase stagnates

Private tenants in the UK are paying 1.5 per cent more in rent than this time last year, according to May’s Index of Private Housing Rental Prices. Released on 17 June by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the index revealed that the rate of increase is the same as it was last year.
The ONS advised that a recent increase in tenant demand will take several months to show in the Index of Private Housing Rental Prices.

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Emission rules exemption for London construction firms

A six-month exemption from London’s new Low Emission Zone standards will be available to construction firms to aid their Covid-19 recovery, the Mayor of London announced on 15 June.
Firms will be able to apply for polluting construction vehicles to be exempt from the tighter emissions restrictions due to be introduced this September. The exemptions will last until February 2021.

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£12 million funding pot for EV research

As part of its drive to net zero, the Government has announced a series of measures aimed at promoting zero-carbon vehicles, including a £12 million investment in research to develop better charging infrastructure.
The Government announced the funding on 16 June and clarified that it includes a £10 million competition for the best charging infrastructure, as well as the best design of electric and hydrogen batteries. Separately, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles is making £2 million available to small and medium businesses researching zero-emission vehicles.

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‘Urgent reassessment’ needed of planned garden towns

The Government must review the transport sustainability of all planned garden villages and towns, as they do not include adequate public transport provision and will lead to a reliance on cars. A new report by Transport for New Homes, published on 16 June, calls for a coordinated approach across the nation’s local authorities to find better places to invest in garden towns built around good transport links.
Among its recommendations, it argues that Government must speed up the delivery of new rail links and regional stations to expedite this process and widen the locations where homes can be built sustainably.

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Energy and Environment

Consultation: Combined Heat and Power’s role in a net-zero future

The Government is now consulting on the role that Combined Heat and Power (CHP) could play in decarbonising heat and industry to help the UK meet its 2050 net-zero target.
Launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the call to evidence seeks views from CHP, network and energy operators, academics and tech firms. The consultation closes on 4 September 2020.

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UK must stop protecting high-carbon renewables

A climate think-tank has called on the Government to end the tax-break given to biomass generators but not to other renewable sources, labelling it unfair because it diverts funds from low-carbon technologies. Ember Climate’s new report revealed that the UK taxpayer is spending £3 million a day on subsidising high-carbon renewables.
Published on 15 June, The Burning Question: Should the UK end tax breaks on burning wood for power? calls for the Government to subsidise only those biomass generators that can demonstrate they are net carbon negative over ten years.

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Cost reduction the key to unlocking nuclear energy

Cost reductions and a change to the policy framework are vital if nuclear is to play a significant role in the UK’s drive to become carbon neutral, according to the latest report from Energy Systems Catapult.
Published on 18 June, Nuclear for Net Zero advises that wind power is the most important technology for decarbonising power, but that nuclear power can also play a vital role if deployed effectively – for instance at scale for district heating in cities.

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Other News

UK manufacturing output hits record low

A survey by accountancy firm BDO and Make UK, which represents manufactures, shows the manufacturing sector plunging to a record low in Q2 2020. Sharing the findings on 15 June, the organisations have called for a National Recovery Plan and immediate stimulus package beginning with a business rates holiday to save jobs and boost investment.
The survey shows that output reached the lowest level since records began thirty years ago, surpassing the previous record lows seen during the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.

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