King's Speech prompts reaction from built environment sector

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) have responded to the King's Speech, which unveils legislative plans for the year ahead.

Guto Davies, director of policy at ACE and EIC said the organisations acknowledge the significance of some of the proposed bills and initiatives. 

He added: "With an election likely to take place next year, time is of the essence, and the industry must remain agile in its response to the evolving policy landscape. The legislative lever is one tool for government, but Ministers also need to drive certainty through broader policy visions and objectives.

"Furthermore, recent announcements regarding net zero have introduced uncertainty, leaving us eagerly awaiting further details to inform an approach moving forward.

"The Trade Bill, Automated Vehicles Bill, and the Rail Reform Bill represent opportunities for our members to actively engage in shaping the sector’s trajectory. The proposed legislation offers a promising pathway for industry players to contribute their expertise and drive meaningful change."

He added the eyes of the built environment sector in the UK would now turn to the upcoming autumn statement.

He added it is hoped there, "will be a concrete commitment to infrastructure spending, ensuring the continued momentum and growth of the industry". 

"We remain committed to collaborating with policymakers, industry leaders, and other stakeholders to drive sustainable development and foster a resilient economy," Davies added. 

Other commentators in the sector included Max Sugarman, chief executive of Intelligent Transport Systems UK (ITS UK), the industry association for transport technology. 

He said it was great to see the Government set out plans for legislation on self-driving vehicles in the King’s Speech, allowing this emerging technology to be rolled out in a safe and secure way. 

"The UK is already a world-leader in connected and autonomous vehicles, and legislation will help further support the growth of the transport technology sector, enabling the UK to develop a competitive advantage from which it can export its expertise abroad," he said. 

"The digitalisation of Traffic Regulation Orders, to be set out in the bill, is positive too, and will enable better use of our infrastructure assets.

“It also highly welcome to see a rail reform bill set out in the Government’s briefing document accompanying the Speech. Rail reform is vitally needed in order that the UK rail sector can roll out smart ticketing and fares reform, thereby encouraging passengers back to the railway post-pandemic." 

He added reforms to the sector will enable the railway to become better integrated with the wider transport network, enabling more end-to-end journeys and better services for passengers.

“The UK’s intelligent transport sector is highly innovative, and has the opportunity to take advantage of a growing global market," he said. 

"However, to do so it needs the right regulatory and policy environment, so whilst it’s good to see many of these changes set out in the King’s Speech, we continue to urge Government to look at ways it can further support the industry, such as by placing shared micro-mobility schemes on a permanent footing, creating a regulatory framework for transport data services, such as Mobility as a Service and by changing VAT rules to support demand responsive transport. 

"ITS UK and our members will continue to urge these Government’s to implement changes speedily, so our industry will can further support an efficient, green and safe transport system.”

Alan Sinclair, director, UK head of natural resources at Turner & Townsend said energy security was "rightly" a priority, but added we need to make sure the conversation around gas and oil isn’t detracting from the progress that we’re making in alternatives and the additional investment that’s needed.  

"Part of attracting record levels of investment in renewables will be down to cultivating the right skills and supply chain to catalyse innovation in the energy sources and fuels of the future," he said.  

"We saw elements of this over the summer with the launch of Great British Nuclear, and it is vital that the government stays the course.  

"We need certainty and clarity to offer the private sector the confidence to fund the development of new projects across nuclear, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage to reach net zero by 2050.”

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