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Week ending 22/04/2014

New Infrastructure Bill will include ‘freedom to frack’ with minimal compensation The next legislative programme, announced in the Queen’s Speech in June, is expected to give energy companies the freedom to drill for shale gas under private land without requiring consent, so a change from present. There will also be further planning reforms (reducing pre-application consultations and making it easier to change planning permissions) and new powers for the Highways Agency (by turning it into a publicly owned company like Network Rail). The separate strands combine into an attempt to boost infrastructure investment, which has been much lower than the targets set in 2011’s National Infrastructure Plan; investment in the sector has also been held back recently by the changes in pension rules as insurance companies were going to invest based on annuity money held, which is now a lot less certain.

Conservative U-turn on vote on lifting hunting ban Conservatives will not hold a vote, which was a manifesto commitment, as most MPs support the ban.

Farming Progress on better regulation but few tangible results on farm yet The Farming Regulation Task Force Implementation Group has reported that the Government has made significant progress in its better regulation agenda but that, to have long-term impact on farming, a more strategic approach to improve regulation is needed.

EU beef exports to US not expected to start until end of 2014 Despite the US lifting its import ban on beef from the EU last autumn, trade will not actually start until much later in 2014 as protocols and audits need to be agreed. The delay has frustrated the EU beef sector, which is facing an expected 7% drop in beef production and consumption over the next decade.

European milk market observatory launched to improve transparency of the dairy market The online observatory will aggregate data on prices, production and consumption in Member States and provide market analysis, short-term outlook reports and medium-term forecasts.

New EU rules to curb commodity speculation to be introduced very shortly The new rules are designed to establish a more transparent and responsible financial system on commodity trading, which many analysts argue led to increased commodity price volatility in the past five years.

Property Issues European nature designations can be removed – if… The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Member States are required to propose the declassification of a Site of Community Importance (SCI, which includes SPAs and SCAs) when it has become irretrievably unsuitable to achieve the objectives of the Habitats Directive. However, the failure of a Member State to protect a site does not necessarily justify the declassification of that site.

Planning reform in England: New Planning Court from 6 April 2014 A new Planning Court has been established, within the High Court, to deal with all planning-related judicial reviews and statutory challenges. It is one of a number of reforms to make the planning system more efficient.

Residential Markets Residential market update •

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Experts fear Britain could be heading for another boom and bust in residential property prices based on several market indicators - demand for homes, prices and mortgage loan-to-value ratios, which are rising fast while housing supply is lagging. However, the Ernst & Young Item Club has dismissed the fears, saying England was not experiencing a typical debt-fuelled recovery. Mortgage lending was 37% higher in 1Q2014 compared with 1Q2013. However, new rules on lending due to come into force in April could affect the rise in new mortgages. (Council of Mortgage Lenders). The Government is likely to introduce stamp duty rebates worth £1,000-4,000 for homebuyers if they install insulation and other energy saving measures through the Green Deal, which is only attracting a fraction of the expected numbers. 1


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The latest RICS Residential Market Survey found sales hit a six-year high as activity spreads across the country; new instructions declined for the third month running underpinning the upward move in prices; and, loan-to-value ratios for first time buyers continues to creep upwards. Surveyors now expect that house price inflation will be around 6% per annum, on average, over the next five years. Rents rose by their lowest amount in four years, 0.9% in the year to March 2014, as more people decided to purchase a home, according to LSL Property Services. The Government’s Build to Rent scheme has failed to achieve the targets set when it was announced in 2012; only 17 developments worth £300m will go ahead, short of the 45 projects and £700m which were set as the project’s objectives.

Lib Dems revise mansion tax plan The revised proposal is for a levy based on council tax bands on houses worth more than £2m; it will affect around 82,000 houses, most of which are in London. The previous proposal was for a 1% charge on values above £2m.

Trust slams greenfield pressure The National Trust has warned the Government is hustling councils into permitting development on greenfield land rather than brownfield, with its research shows that half of English councils with green-belt land are preparing to allocate some for development.

Forestry 67 projects covering 2,800 hectares validated under Woodland Carbon Code The Woodland Carbon Code is a voluntary standard, initiated in July 2011, for woodland creation projects that make claims about the carbon they take out of the atmosphere. The 67 projects are projected to take 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air. Total UK GHG emissions were 570MtCO2e in 2013.

Environment Fewer honeybee deaths than feared in EU A major EU study has found lower death rates in honey bees than expected, partly assuaging fears over a USstyle collapse in populations. Nevertheless. wild bees and other pollinators related to the honeybee are still experiencing ‘a worrying decline’ in populations. The study did not consider pesticide impacts.

And finally… No need to tell me that grumpiness is at its greatest in the morning 27% of people think that ‘morning people’, who are bright and cheerful at the start of the day, are annoying or irritating. 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 (01733 866562) or (01522 507310)


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