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Local Authority round-up 19/05/23

Our Local Authority round up provides brief summaries of topical information on a weekly basis, to keep you aware of the changes and updates relevant to you.


Government publishes guidance on public authorities’ enhanced biodiversity duty

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has published guidance for public authorities on complying with their strengthened biodiversity duty in England. Under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, public authorities must have regard, in exercising their functions, to conserving and enhancing biodiversity. From 1 January 2023, the Environment Act 2021 amended section 40 to extend the general biodiversity duty from “conserving” to “conserving and enhancing”, that is, from a duty to preserve to an active requirement to improve. “Public authorities” includes not only government departments, public bodies and local authorities (including local planning authorities), but also statutory undertakers with public authority duties for their land and delivering publicly important services. The guidance explains that public authorities must:

  • Complete their first consideration of what action to take for biodiversity by 1 January 2024 and agree policies and objectives as soon as possible after that.
  • Check if their strategies will affect how their organisation complies with the biodiversity duty. In particular, this applies to the following strategies introduced by the Environment Act 2021:
    • local nature recovery strategies;
    • species conservation strategies; and
    • protected site strategies.
  • Take action to help the government meet the targets in its Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 (EIP 2023) and prepare for mandatory biodiversity net gain.

For more information please click here.

International Trade

UK launches talks trade talks with Switzerland

UK Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, has launched negotiations for a modern, updated free trade agreement with Switzerland this week. The current UK-Switzerland FTA is based on an EU-Swiss deal from more than 50 years ago and does not cover services, investment, digital or data. She will meet with Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin in Bern in order to discuss changes which can be made to the agreement to bring it up to date in the modern world. Kemi Badenoch said “As two of the world’s leading service economies, there’s a huge prize on offer to both the UK and Switzerland by updating our trading relationship to reflect the strength of our companies working in areas ranging from finance and legal, to accountancy and architecture. The UK and Switzerland are natural trading partners and today’s launch will play to our strengths as services superpowers, while also boosting investment in emerging technologies, data innovation, and digital trade.”

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

Government plans to overhaul housing laws

The government introduced the Renters’ (Reform) Bill to Parliament on 17 May 2023 which aims to introduce reforms which will deliver safer, fairer and higher quality homes. The bill will scrap the right to evict tenants without having to prove any problem, known as Section 21 notices or ‘no fault’ evictions. Tenants will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. Landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property. It will also give councils more powers to tackle rogue landlords, digitise the court process and bring in a new ombudsman to speed up decision-making. The reforms will also strengthen powers to evict anti-social tenants, broadening the disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction and making it quicker to evict a tenant acting anti-socially. Housing Secretary Michael Gove said “Too many renters are living in damp, unsafe, cold homes, powerless to put things right, and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them. This government is determined to tackle these injustices by offering a new deal to those living in the private rented sector; one with quality, affordability, and fairness at its heart. Our new laws introduced to Parliament today will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants, while delivering our manifesto commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions. This will ensure that everyone can live somewhere which is decent, safe and secure – a place they’re truly proud to call home.”

For more information please click here.

Homes England launches its next five-year Strategic Plan

The Government’s housing and regeneration agency, Homes England, has unveiled its next five-year Strategic Plan, setting out how it will support communities and families by enabling the delivery of more good quality, affordable homes alongside the regeneration of towns and cities across England. The plan is underpinned by £16 billion government funding, and sets out how, working with its partners, the Agency can deliver a revitalised built environment across England that serves the needs of all communities. The Agency’s revitalised mission is underpinned by five objectives:

  • Support the creation of vibrant and successful places that people can be proud of, working with local leaders and other partners to deliver housing-led mixed-use regeneration with a brownfield-first approach.
  • Facilitate the creation of the homes people need, intervening where necessary to ensure places have enough homes of the right type and tenure.
  • Build a housing and regeneration sector that works for everyone, driving diversification, partnership working, and innovation.
  • Promote the creation of high-quality homes in well-designed places that reflect community priorities by taking an inclusive and long-term approach.
  • Enable sustainable homes and places, maximising their positive contribution to the natural environment and minimising their environmental impact.

For more information please click here.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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