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Energy, quangos and planning targeted by new Bills

Bills to create a Green Investment Bank, cuts to quangos and  more power to councils and neighbourhoods were unveiled in the Queen’s speech at the state opening of Parliament today (25 May).

The Energy Security and Green Economy Bill will aim to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and to secure energy supplies.  It may create a Green Investment Bank to support investment in low carbon projects to transform the economy. This was announced in the coalition Government’s manifesto last week, which stated the GIB will “create green financial products to provide individuals with opportunities to invest in the infrastructure needed to support the green economy”. It may also reform energy markets to ensure security of supply and ensure fair competition and put in place a framework to guide the development of a smart grid that will revolutionise the management of supply and demand for electricity.

The main element of the Bill will be a possible ‘pay as you save’ scheme through a “Green Deal” that could see householders and energy providers incentivised by how much energy they save.

Quangos - quasi-non-governmental organisations - are to be cut and £1bn of bureaucracy savings created each year through the Public bodies (reform bill). It will also allow ministers to abolish, merge or transfer functions from public bodies.  The review period for quangos will also be cut from every five years to every three years.

This week the Government announced £500m of savings by cutting 16 quangos.  It is thought there will be more cuts to follow with the Waste & Recycling Action Programme at risk of at least budget cuts, particularly as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs must find £162m of savings, as announced by the Treasury yesterday.

Additionally, the Decentralisation and Localism Bill will “be introduced to devolve greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and give local communities control over housing and planning decisions”. The bill aims to empower local people and give local government freedom from central and governmental control. It will return decision making power on housing and planning to local councils and give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue. This could have a potentially large impact on proposed waste management facilities, particularly energy from waste plants, which have faced increasing opposition from residents recently.

The Bill will also replace the Infrastructure Planning Commission with a “democratically accountable” system as announced in the Coalition agreement.

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