The RIBA has voiced its disappointment after the government mothballed both the long-awaited Heritage Protection Bill and the Flooding Bill.
Neither bill was mentioned in today’s Queen’s Speech, which only included 13 new pieces of legislation – a significant drop from the 18 mooted just months ago. Instead the government looked to prioritise bills that could have a greater impact on the financial slowdown, such as the Banking Bill, aimed at stopping banks from getting into trouble.
Echoing earlier comments from English Heritage, RIBA president Sunand Prasad said: ‘We are disappointed that the Heritage Protection Bill and the Flooding Bill were not mentioned in the speech.
‘The government is understandably focusing on the economic situation... [but] we trust that heritage protection is not dropped from the government’s priorities.’
He added: ‘The historic built environment is a valuable asset and there is a great need to reform the system to ensure we better protect but also utilise this living resource in the future.’
Prasad went on to urge the government not to sideline the issues of flood management. He said: ‘It is clear that a framework to address all sources of flooding, clarify responsibilities and tackle flood-risk management is needed and we hope the government will at the very least publish a draft bill during 2009.’
However, two potentially significant bills did emerge: the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill, which will make it a legal duty for council to respond to petitions and monitor local economic conditions; and the Equality Bill, which hopes to ‘simplify and harmonise discrimination law’ and introduce ‘transparency in the workplace’ to tackle pay differences between men and women.