Reforms to speed up infrastructure projects, including new freedoms for the Highways Agency have been included in the Queen’s Speech today (Wednesday 4 June).
The government has announced its legislative agenda for the year ahead with 11 bills to be presented to Parliament over the next 12 months.
The Highways Agency will be turned into a government-owned company, with a shake-up of its funding. It is currently a quango (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation).
It will also be made easier to apply for a development consent order (DCO) for building projects of national significance.
Welcoming the inclusion of the Highways Agency reforms in the Infrastructure Bill, Nick Baveystock, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) director general, said: “Transforming the Highways Agency into a government owned company will facilitate a welcome shift away from the costly and inefficient stop/start pattern of investment that has plagued the development and operation of our road network. We have urged government to reinforce its commitment to these reforms by ensuring the legislation that underpins the changes is passed swiftly, and it has responded.
“With this assurance, industry will be able to step up and respond to the greater visibility and funding certainty, by investing more in developing its people and capabilities. I have every confidence it is ready to respond to this opportunity and ICE, with other industry bodies, is working to catalyse and co-ordinate efforts to drive such a response.”