£50 bn of life support for the “old economy”

An earlier Act put aside £50 bn of public money to boost growth. Now the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, pushed through Parliament with unusual haste, shows that they plan to spend it on construction not on the new economy. The Act will allow planners to stop up or divert footpaths as soon as planning permission is applied for, instead of only after it is granted as now. According to the civil servants involved this change will “enable rights of way issues to be considered earlier in the process, instead of being left until the end, when, as you are aware, such issues are often more difficult to resolve” (see link to Ramblers, below, for this quote). The only imaginable ways that the new Act could make the issues less ‘difficult to resolve’ is that it will reduce publicity or allow developers to apply for a small development and then expand it once the footpath is stopped.

Other destructive provisions of the Act include the ability to bypass Local Authorities in the planning process and the ominous-sounding ‘Restrictions on right to register land as town or village green.’ Would these village greens be the new ‘brown field sites’?

CPRE, National Trust, RSPB and Ramblers are all critical of the new Act, but accept the need for economic growth. All are unaware that the references to ‘flatlining economy’ by the parliamentary opposition, which have triggered this government initiative, are now known to be inaccurate (see post of 9 February on this site). The UK economy has grown significantly every year since 2009, as confirmed by rising employment figures, and even if more growth is needed the belief that ‘steel and concrete’ infrastructure investment will deliver it is unfounded. It is not too late to stop this Bill by writing to MPs. If they do not want to see the UK revert to  developing country status and lose its village greens and footpaths they should either stop this Bill or hand over supervision of infrastructure investment to the Infrastructure Board proposed by the London School of Economics in their Growth Commission report, out this month.




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