The Ramblers respond to Infrastructure Bill

The Infrastructure Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on 18 June. The Bill covers nationally significant infrastructure projects, as well as the building of roads, planning processes, sale of public land, energy and housing. Ahead of the reading we briefed seventy peers on our response to the proposals.

The Bill was first announced during the Queen’s Speech on 4 June. According to the Cabinet office, the Bill aims to ‘bolster investment in infrastructure by allowing stable long-term funding, delivering better value for money and relieving unnecessary administrative pressures’.

The Ramblers doesn’t oppose the Bill in principle - we know that urban and rural communities need good quality energy, housing and transport infrastructure in order to grow. But these developments must be sustainable and not harm our countryside and urban green spaces.

Walking needs good infrastructure too: public transport enables people to access places to walk and connect with their local community and the natural environment. 

The Infrastructure Bill offers an opportunity to make new developments more walking-friendly. As it moves through parliament we’ll try to ensure the provisions outlined in the Bill are designed with walkers in mind and enable more people to enjoy the benefits of walking.


Energy

The Bill aims to change trespass laws to allow energy firms to drill for shale oil and gas and geothermal energy without the landowner’s consent. Although this won’t affect public rights of way and access above ground, we’re concerned about the precedent this could set for similar above ground activities like quarrying.

As a member of the Community Energy Coalition we support each community’s right to buy a stake in their local renewable electricity scheme. But the community stake needs to be raised from 5% to at least 20% of the project cost to secure a meaningful level of shared ownership.


Road building

We’re not against the provisions set out in the Bill, but we’d like investment in public transport favoured over road building. Where new roads are built there needs to be safe and convenient crossings for walkers.


Planning process

We’re keen to see a faster and simpler planning process but without undermining important protections in our planning system. We’d welcome greater detail on the proposed powers the Bill grants and how these powers would be limited in practice.


Next steps

The second reading is a general debate on all aspects of the Bill.  Next will be the Committee stage on 3 July, which is a line by line examination of the Bill. 


Further info

Read an overview of the Bill

Track the progress of the Bill through parliament