Headlines Labour to stick with NPPF Labour will retain the National Planning Policy Framework as it says the country needs certainty, although it may change around the edges; this is a significant change as they had previously said they would get rid of it. It has also said, despite being ‘very strongly committed to the green belt’, that it could not promise to intervene to save green belt from development as this was a decision for local communities to take.
Water Act 2014 received royal asset on 14 May The Act includes provisions on water abstraction, environmental permitting and reducing the bureaucracy relating to the governance of Internal Drainage Boards.
Farming 95% of ASDA’s fresh produce supply chain will feel the impacts of climate change ASDA is working with suppliers to introduce better water management practices that will make the supply chain more robust, but says there is still more to do to invest in sustainable solutions and practices.
Nitrogen on the Table: a special report from the European Nitrogen Assessment This fascinating report looks at the effect of food choices on nitrogen emissions: 1. Despite the relatively high nitrogen use efficiency of European agriculture, it is responsible for around 80% of reactive nitrogen emissions in the EU; 79-88% of these emissions are from livestock production 2. Livestock products have much higher nitrogen losses (3.5 - 25 times) than plant products, such as cereals 3. The average nitrogen footprint of European diets differs by a factor of 2 – 4 times between EU countries. Countries, such as Bulgaria and Slovakia, have a low intake of animal products compared with others which have a high intake, such as Denmark 4. If diets were altered to a lower protein intake (and average protein intake in the EU is about 70% higher than required by World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations), nitrogen losses from agriculture would be reduced 5. Reducing livestock product consumption by 50% would cut EU nitrogen emissions by around 40%, ammonia emissions by 29-43%, nitrous oxide by 24-30% and nitrate emissions by 28-26%, and the EU’s reliance on imported soybeans, as animal feed, would fall by 75% 6. Such a change would have public health benefits and lead to major changes in agriculture, with large socio-economic consequences.
Managing waste on land: guidance for land managers This Environment Agency guide covers moving and using different types of waste, and has detailed information about legal responsibilities, documentation and exemptions from environmental permitting.
Downward pressure expected on feed grain prices The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) first forecasts of cereals and oilseeds supply and demand for the year to end-June 2015 indicate the potential for the highest-ever global maize and soybean crops in the season ahead, mainly due to record crops in the US, which could mean downward pressure on grain and oilseed prices.
Property Issues Letting agents to be compelled to publish fees The Government is proposing that letting agents publish details of all fees (not just compulsory fees as at present) they charge to prevent rogue agents making hidden charges.
Environment Agency chairman floats idea of floating houses Lord Smith suggested building floating houses as it would be “impractical” to impose a ban on building on flood plains.
Promoting economic growth locally - Public Accounts Committee report, May 2014 The PAC has accused the programme that the Government set up following the abolition of Regional Development Agencies, which includes Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Regional Growth Fund, Enterprise Zones, the Growing Places Fund and City Deals, of lacking clarity and progress in creating jobs. Most of the money allocated to the programme has not been fully spent. Next year, the Local Growth Fund will replace much of the above. 1
Scottish action to introduce three-year tenancies and a cap on rental increases The above two amendments to the Housing Scotland Bill have been tabled; this follows closely on the Labour Party’s similar proposals to reform the private rented sector. The Scottish Property Federation has warned that changes could threaten interest in the large-scale build-to-rent sector.
Local authorities threaten legal challenge to Land Registry proposal to centralise local land charges register There is little or no support from local authorities for the proposals for the Land Registry to take over maintenance of the local land charges register. The councils think that the change will lead to delays in conveyancing of property.
Cadw chief executive appointed Kate Clark will succeed Marilyn Lewis as head of the Welsh Government’s historic environment service in late summer.
Pickles denies allotment claims Eric Pickles has denied that councils will be allowed to sell off allotments despite allowing a disposal in Hertfordshire; that decision will be subject to judicial review this summer.
Flooding costs could increase almost five-fold by 2050 Extreme and catastrophic floods in Europe, such as those seen in 2013, currently occur approximately once every 16 years, but this may increase to once every 10 years by 2050, according to new EU research under the ENHANCE programme. The study also suggests that annual average economic losses caused by extreme floods could reach almost five times higher than 2013 values.
Residential Markets • • •
The number of homes coming on to the market has declined for the fourth consecutive month (RICS Residential Market Survey) The survey also says that prices will continue to increase as regions outside London are becoming increasingly upbeat (RICS Residential Market Survey) Three ex-Chancellors (Darling, Lamont and Lawson) have warned that the second phase of Help to Buy (HTB) scheme should be scaled back because it risked inflating a new housing bubble. The number of mortgages on offer to buyers with small deposits has quadrupled, due to HTB, according to the Financial Times. However, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said HTB had had little impact on prices - accounting for less than 2% of the 1.1m transactions in the past year. NIESR predict house price increases for another two years before interest rates halt them in 2017 Mark Carney has warned that the housing market is the “biggest risk” to Britain’s economic recovery and that the Bank of England would act to rein in mortgage spending this year. The Bank said it would use macro-prudential tools, such as tougher conditions on mortgage lending and restrictions on the amount home owners could borrow, to cool the housing market, with interest rate rises as the ‘last line of defence’. The Bank hinted that it was on the verge of intervening rather than waiting for a fullblown bubble (BoE Inflation Report, May 2014) The Home Builders Federation claims that just 4% of land with possible planning permission that is owned by large housebuilders is not being built upon, which dispels the myth that builders are holding land to gain from increasing prices
And finally… Splash it all over… To attract tourists, Visit York has produced a deodorant that makes you smell like a viking. Mead, gore, sweat, animal meat, seawater and smoke were the typical odours of a 10th century warrior. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this briefing, its information may not be comprehensive and recipients should not act upon it without seeking full professional advice. If you have queries regarding any of the articles, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org (01733 866562) or email@example.com (01522 507310)