Highways Agency legislation heads to Parliament this week following Queen’s Speech

Highways Agency transformation legislation to move to the House of Lords this week

The Bill containing legislation to turn the Highways Agency into an arms length government company will be laid before Parliament in the House of Lords as early as the end of this week, sources say.

Road investment strategies that are key to the Agency establishing its forward work programme and funding requirement over a five year, regulated investment period will be released by the end of June, it is also being said.

The Agency legislation is due to be part of a broader Infrastructure Bill to be included in today’s Queen’s Speech when Government lays out its agenda for the final year of this Parliament.

Department for Transport is shepherding the Bill through Parliament and will be keeping a careful eye on other items in it which may create delay and put the Agency plans at risk.

The Bill is expected to contain an assortment of infrastructure ambitions including proposals to allow drilling for shale gas 1.5km underneath homes and allowing developers to pay an offset charge to local authorities in return for not having to construct new homes to meet zero carbon requirements.

DfT, as lead department, would find it straightforward to introduce amendments to remove those parts of the Bill creating hold ups in order to achieve its aim of revitalising the Agency and bringing certainty and transparency to England’s road investment.

The aim is to get legislation passed and the Agency established as a company before the General Election next May. Road investment by 2021 is expected to hit £4bn a year, four times the £1bn of 2013.

“Transforming the Highways Agency into a Government-owned company, with flexible five year budgets, would stop it from getting bogged down in stop-start cycles and enable it to act more strategically and deliver improved road networks,” the CBI said.

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