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Policy update from CE National – November 10th 2023

Government sets out its policy agenda for the next session of Parliament in the King’s Speech

The State Opening of Parliament took place on Tuesday (7 November) which saw King Charles deliver a speech outlining what his government plans to do over the next year. It was probably the final King’s Speech before next year’s general election and contained the lowest amount of legislation since the Queen’s Speech in 2014.

The King re-announced several initiatives previously set out by the Prime Minister, while also reminding listeners of the economic situation ahead of the Autumn Statement taking place later this month that is likely to contain more announcements.

 

The built environment

There was little that was directly relevant for the built environment. A priority is strengthening the UK’s energy security, and committed to licensing new oil and gas fields, working to secure record amounts of investment in renewable energy sources and decarbonising infrastructure through investment in Network North, and establishing Great British Railways for accountable operational and infrastructure decisions.

 

There are also changes to the ongoing Renters’ Reform Bill which include:

  • A digital private rented property portal to bring together key information for landlords, tenants, and councils
  • Formally scrapping proposals to require landlords to meet EPC C from 2025 in their private rented properties
  • A delay to ‘no-fault evictions’ until possession grounds are made clearer and a new court process is in place
  • Stronger powers for landlords to evict ‘anti-social tenants’.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was mentioned – this will help to clarify and improve rules around using personal data for scientific research

Other announcements included:

  • Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss
  • Holding other countries to their environmental commitments
  • Making it easier for leaseholders to purchase their freehold
  • The construction of a national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Westminster
  • Advanced British Standard qualification to replace A Levels (as announced by the PM at the Conservative party conference)
  • New competition rules for digital markets.

Secretary of State makes first appearance in front of Energy Security and Net Zero Committee

On Wednesday (8 November), Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho appeared in front of the Select Committee to discuss the work of her Department. Coutinho answered a range of questions around COP 28 and the new Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill and defended Sunak’s recent climbdown on net zero, arguing that the UK still has “incredibly ambitious targets”. Coutinho also shared that she would look to tackle affordability problems with bills through the Warm Homes Discount Scheme.

 

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announces new renewable energy partnership between the UK and Germany

On Friday (3 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced an agreement with Germany that provides a blueprint for cooperation on energy and climate policy, including clean technologies and energy security. The partnership will see both nations commit to enhanced cooperation to remove regulatory barriers on renewables and implement knowledge sharing arrangements on industrial and buildings decarbonisation.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero gives £65 million of support for data centre waste heat network projects

On Friday (3 November), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced it will support five projects to deliver cleaner, low-cost heating to housing estates and businesses using waste heat from data centres. One of these projects plans to complete the full decarbonisation of the Lancaster University campus with a heat network using a large heat pump powered by a new solar farm and an existing wind turbine. Another one of these projects will connect 10,000 new homes and 250,000m2 of commercial space to a low-carbon energy source.

 

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