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Local Authority round-up 22/10/21

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.

Commercial

Government announces funding to decarbonise buildings

The Government has announced its Heat and Buildings Strategy aimed at decarbonising public and private buildings under which they will provide £3.9 billion of new funding to help councils and private home owners install more efficient, low carbon heating systems. The new funding, which will fund the next three years of investment through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant scheme, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and the Heat Networks Transformation Programme and reducing carbon emissions from public buildings through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. The £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme will see grants of £5,000 made available from April next year to encourage homeowners to install more efficient, low carbon heating systems and to help grow the electric heat pump market. A new £60 million Heat Pump Ready innovation programme is also being announced, part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

European Commission proposes changes to Northern Ireland Protocol implementation

The European Commission has published proposals to change the way the Northern Ireland Protocol to the UK-EU withdrawal agreement is implemented, with the aim of further facilitating the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The proposals follow extensive discussions over the past months between the Commission and the UK government, as well as discussions between the Commission and stakeholders in Northern Ireland. The package includes four non-papers (informal documents). In respect of sanitary and phytosanitary issues the Commission proposes to simplify food, plant and animal health controls and significantly reduce (by approximately 80%) official checks for goods moving from Great Britain to be consumed in Northern Ireland, with various safeguards to protect the EU single market in return. In respect of customs, it proposes to expand the scope of the existing scheme on “goods not at risk” of entering the EU single market to a wider group of beneficiaries (such as SMEs) and products, which would halve customs formalities for these goods, subject to safeguards. In respect of medicines, it proposes to amend EU law so that pharmaceutical companies in Great Britain can keep their regulatory functions where they are currently located when supplying the Northern Ireland market with medicines that have been authorised by the UK regulatory authority in accordance with the Protocol. It also proposes to improve the exchange of information with stakeholders and authorities in Northern Ireland about the implementation of the Protocol and relevant EU measures, with the aim of making the application of the Protocol more transparent, while still respecting the UK’s constitutional order. The Commission does not propose to change the role of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in respect of the Protocol, which has been one of the UK government’s main complaints. The Commission hopes the EU and UK will now intensify their discussions on the Protocol and the four non-papers over the coming weeks with a view to reaching a jointly agreed permanent solution as soon as possible.

For more information please click here.

Prime Minister seals free trade deal with New Zealand

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have confirmed that a free trade deal has been agreed between the UK and New Zealand. Under the deal, tariffs as high as 10% will be removed on a huge range of UK goods including clothing, footwear, buses, ships, bulldozers and excavators. It will also allow professionals such as lawyers and architects to work in New Zealand more easily. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said “This deal is a win-win for two like-minded democracies who believe in free and fair trade. It delivers for families, workers and businesses across Britain, and sets the stage for greater cooperation between our two nations on global challenges like digital trade and climate change. It is a vital part of our plan to level up the country: slashing costs and red tape for exporters, building new trade routes for our services companies and refocusing Britain on the dynamic economies of the Asia-Pacific.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Planning inspector overturns council decision to block 167-home development on Green Belt land

A council’s decision to reject plans for a 167-home development to be built on Green Belt land has been overturned by a planning inspector. North Hertfordshire District Council had refused permission for the development in Codicote but in May 2021, Ashill Land Ltd made a planning appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. In his report, Mr Peter Rose, the planning inspector, acknowledged that the scheme would incur “definitional harm” as an “inappropriate development” and would impose various levels of moderate-significant harm through loss of openness and through encroachment. To that extent, the scheme would conflict with Policy 2 of the Local Plan, which seeks to ensure that uses of land in the Green Belt will be kept open in character but, he said the arguments in favour of housing outweighed the impact on Green Belt land. The inspector attached “very substantial weight” to the “critically” needed housing benefits of the scheme and “significant weight” to addressing the urgency for school expansion. He said the potential harm to the Green Belt, by reason of inappropriateness, was “clearly” outweighed by the considerations for housing and school capacity and concluded that the appeal should be allowed subject to conditions.

Retrofit London Housing Action Plan announced

A new plan to upgrade all housing stock in the capital has been agreed by all the London boroughs. The Retrofit London Housing Action Plan sets out how all of London’s domestic buildings would be retrofitted to an average energy performance rating of EPC B by 2030 to cut carbon emissions. It sets out several key principles including the need for boroughs to retrofit their own stock of 390,000 council homes, making sure planning decisions and guidance support low-carbon retrofit activity, and move London away from gas heating. London Councils estimates that achieving net zero in every London property will cost £98 billion overall, but that this target will support 200,000 jobs, encourage growth in green industries and reduce fuel poverty.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming Webinars

As you may well know we run a programme of webinars on a wide range of topics, listed below are those webinars upcoming in the next few weeks which may be of interest to you:

HR and employment law update

Join our employment law specialists on 4th November, where we will cover recent and upcoming updates on legislation and case law, focusing throughout on the practical points of what this means for employers, as well as specific guidance on how to deal with long Covid.

For more information or to secure your place, please click here.

An employment law update for in-house lawyers

Many in-house lawyers aren’t employment law specialists, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t asked to advise on employment-related issues. For example, hybrid working has given rise to concerns about data security, and the monitoring of staff, Brexit has changed the changed the landscape for recruitment of workers, IR35 has impacted on agreements for the provision of services. These are issues that aren’t restricted to employment specialists and present risks and complications that many organisations have had to address. Ward Hadaway is hosting “An employment law update for in-house lawyers” on 2nd November at 12pm, which is an update on a number of important compliance topics and is aimed at lawyers that aren’t from an employment law background.

For more information or to secure your place, please click here.

CPD Programme – managing capability: performance and sickness absence

The second webinar in our CPD Programme will focus on managing capability: performance and sickness absence. Join us on Tuesday 23rd November at 10am. These sessions are completely free and will take place by Zoom, so they will not disrupt your day. They are perfect for HR professionals and managers who have responsibility for managing people. You will have the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature, or our teams will be on hand for drop-in sessions for attendees after each event.

For more information or to secure your place, 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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