In a scaled down Queen’s Speech the Government announced a total of fourteen Bills to be passed onto the statue book this week, and a further seven draft Bills to be consulted upon. Responding to concerns over the economy and public finances is now likely to dominate the coming parliamentary session.
The Woodland Trust welcomes the intention in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill to encourage greater public participation by local people in shaping their area. It is reassuring that the Government decided against giving the Regional Development Agencies sole responsibility for the single regional strategy – a move that could have risked local democracy. A duty to consult on the regional strategies is also welcome as it will guarantee civic engagement.
The challenge now will be to guarantee that this Bill, and the recently passed Planning Act, delivers on the Government’s environmental agenda. Decision-making across government – both nationally and regionally – must afford appropriate protection to the natural world.
Of the draft legislation coming forward, the Trust welcomes both the Floods and Water Bill and the Community Empowerment Bill. In particular we are pleased that the Government is now dealing with the vital issue of water management, and hope that any future legislation delivers on the pledge to introduce a simpler, more effective regime for flood management and recognises the role of other policy agendas such as woodland creation in contributing to this.