Queen's speech - Ramblers reaction

Today the Government has outlined its legislative programme for the coming year. But how will the proposed new legislation impact walking and the walking environment?

westminster

The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will contain provisions to strengthen neighbourhood planning; privatise the Land Registry and to establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.

We will study the detail of changes to planning law to ensure this doesn’t undermine existing procedures for the closure or diversion of public rights of way. We will also closely examine legislation to privatise the Land Registry; any changes this makes must not affect the public’s ability to access information.

Today saw the formal establishment of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), a body which appears to be focussed on big shiny infrastructure projects (i.e. new roads, railways and airports). The government is missing a trick here, where the NIC’s remint could include nation’s green infrastructure as well, such as our developing England Coast path.

The Bus Services Bill features potentially useful provisions for walkers who wish to choose a greener transport option, however further progress could be made by better support for more joined-up planning, and Ministers must make provisions here to ensure local authorities ensure their services connect with those of another.

Also on transport, the Modern Transport Bill will enable the development of spaceports, driverless cars and tighter rules on drone use. Walking though – the most sustainable form of transport - is once more overlooked.

More people walking of course will bring huge health benefits for individuals and communities, and health and wellbeing receives some attention. The most eye-catching measure is a new soft drinks industry levy to tackle obesity. Any government action here need to be many-pronged, with the promotion of physical activity at the heart of it.