Infrastructure and Environment Consultation Update (Michael Gove)

Today I have launched two formal consultations on proposals to support measures in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Infrastructure Levy Technical Consultation

Developer contributions play a vital role in mitigating the impacts of new development.

The government wants to improve the current system of developer contributions in England to ensure that communities receive a fairer contribution of the profit that typically accrues to landowners and developers. We want to end protracted negotiation of section 106 agreements which hold up development and create confusion about what infrastructure will be provided and what levels of affordable housing will be delivered.

Through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Government is seeking powers to create a new Infrastructure Levy in England. Through the Levy we are aiming to create a swifter, more transparent and streamlined system to fund the provision of affordable housing and important infrastructure such as schools, roads, active travel routes and GP surgeries that support new development.

The detailed design of the Levy will be set out in regulations. Today I have launched a technical consultation which will inform the development of the detailed policy that will be set out in those regulations. A further consultation will be carried out on the draft regulations when they are ready and before they are made.

This consultation closes on 9 June 2023.

Environmental Outcome Reports

Over the past 50 years, much of the UK’s wildlife-rich habitat has been lost or degraded and many of our once common species are in long-term decline. This is despite efforts to address environmental issues using tools such as the EU derived systems of strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill contains powers to bring forward a new framework for environmental assessment. The proposals are designed to make sure that the value and rigour of environmental assessment is retained and improved, while allowing us to push for better environmental outcomes.

The EU derived processes of assessment are overly bureaucratic and lack transparency. Users have told us reports are inaccessible and cumbersome, with important details lost in the thousands of pages. There is too much uncertainty in the process, and gold-plating driven by fear of legal challenge results in excessive reporting rather than clarity about the genuine effects of development on the environment which should be of concern to the decision-maker and communities. In combination, these issues with process have diluted, and undermined, the original purpose of assessment as a tool for protecting the environment.

In the new system, Parliament will set clear environmental outcomes against which projects must be considered, introducing clarity and certainty for everyone involved in the process. The reforms will streamline and simplify the assessment process and address the issue of risk aversion by being clear what assessment should cover, and how assessment should be carried out.

This consultation sets out how these powers could be used to ensure Environmental Outcome Reports deliver on our ambition to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

Feedback from this consultation will be used to progress the development of the new assessment framework.

I have also taken this opportunity to publish our post-implementation reviews of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017, and the Infrastructure Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

This consultation closes on 9 June 2023.

seen at 09:49, 18 March in Written Ministerial Statements.
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