Foreign spies face life in prison, and all the other key points of the Queen’s Speech

It is a marked departure from the biggest overhaul of English planning rules in generations which was being pursued last year but has been junked after a backlash from rural Tory MPs.

The new drive focuses on providing incentives to local communities and securing buy-in, as well as streamlining planning processes to ease delays slowing development.

The “levy”, as it has been called by ministers, already exists in some form, with developments currently having to pay an amount to councils when granted planning permission.

But ministers want the charge to be levied at the point of sale, when the true cost of the property is known, potentially bringing in significantly more money for local infrastructure.

Government officials are yet to put a figure on how much more could be raised but believe the change will stop developers negotiating down the amount they pay.

By increasing the financial benefit to local communities in the form of investment in schools and roads it is hoped more proposed projects will be given the go-ahead.

Another change will see a streamlining of the process by which developers prove they have met environmental standards. Officials insisted the standards themselves will not be watered down.

Critics are likely to question whether the changes will create the step-change in property building that political parties of all stripes have demanded.

Neighbors will also be allowed to hold referendums over the style and size of extensions, new homes and conversions on their streets to allow for residential development without full planning permission.

The “street votes” are designed to encourage homeowners to add value to their properties.

Michael Gove, the levelling-up and housing secretary, says this will allow for “gentle densification”, increasing the number of people living in urban areas, without permitting changes to listed buildings or intrusion on the green belt.

Gene-edited crops

Laws that allow the gene editing of animals and crops were welcomed by farmers as the UK seeks to break free from EU regulation.

The decision could lead to “huge benefits to farming” including making food more nutritious and less susceptible to disease, growers said.

The Precision Breeding Bill, outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is designed to “remove unnecessary barriers inherited from the EU” and is aimed at boosting food production in the UK.

“New precision breeding tools could help in a number of ways, from addressing pest and disease pressures on crops and farm animals and improving animal health and welfare, to increasing farmers’ resilience in the event of extreme weather events such as flooding and drought,” said David Exwood, the vice president at the National Farmers’ Union.

Gene editing does not involve the introduction of DNA from other species, unlike GM, and is considered to pose less of a risk by some scientists. It allows, for instance, for animals that are resistant to disease to be bred.


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