We are concerned that the government’s Infrastructure Bill could lead to the loss of publicly-important land. The bill, currently in the House of Lords, appears to allow ministers to transfer land of public value to the Homes and Communities Agency and other bodies, and thence to developers. We fear that this could not only be a rerun of the threat to the public forest estate, but it could affect other land of which is treasured by the public, such as common land, open spaces and public paths.
In the second-reading debate last week the minister of state for transport, Baroness Kramer, said that ‘the government are committed to England’s public forest estate and national parks remaining secure in public ownership for the people who enjoy them and the businesses that depend on them’ and that the Bill was about transferring surplus land from government agencies. But the wording of the Bill has no such limitations.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘This may be sloppy drafting, but we are deeply concerned that the bill could open the door to the development and loss of land and public paths which are valued by local people. These assets are of immense importance and are part of our history. We shall ask Lords to table amendments to clarify the bill and to limit its effect.’