Yesterday the Queen outlined the Coalition’s legislative agenda for the new (and final) session of this parliament. One of the bills announced was the Infrastructure Bill. In the run up to the speech it received attention for the new rules it will introduce on fracking (changing trespass laws to allow companies to drill under peoples homes and land without the landowners permission).
But this isn’t all the bill is about as Dr Rachel Pope pointed out on Twitter earlier:[tweet 474547587270578176 align=’center’] [tweet 474548080482975744 align=’center’]
The full text of the speech doesn’t give much detail on this, saying only that:
My government will introduce a bill to bolster investment in infrastructure and reform planning law to improve economic competitiveness….
…My government will increase housing supply and home ownership by reforming the planning system
However, as noted elsewhere, there are changes in the bill that could have a significant impact on archaeological conditions attached to planning consent:
a local level the bill would allow certain types of planning conditions to be discharged upon application if a local planning authority fails to promptly notify a developer of its decision.
…the government says it will help speed up the time taken for sites granted planning permission to be built out, including reforming “unwieldy procedures and conditions” attached to existing planning permissions
The above quotes sound ominous, but with little other detail currently available (and no mention of exactly what planning conditions the Government considers unwieldy) it’s hard to make a judgement. However, with the Coalition’s patchy track record on heritage and archaeology, there is no doubt (as Rachel Pope says) that archaeologists need to keep their wits about them over the next year.