Proposals include: incentive for carbon capture; report on high-speed rail line to Scotland; equal rights for agency workers

An incentive to bring forward four carbon and capture storage (CCS) projects and a promise to respond to proposals on the high speed railway line from London to Scotland were among the measures announced in today’s Queen’s speech.

The government said the energy bill would contain measures aimed at bringing forward CCS at a commercial scale. It added that this would put the UK “at the forefront of global efforts towards the global deployment of CCS at the levels required to achieve its potential as a carbon-reduction technology.”

The incentive could also provide funding for the retrofit of those demonstration projects to their full capacity, should it be required in future, the government added.

The RICS welcomed the introduction of the incentive but asked for statutory obligations to apply across all energy generators to ensure a level playing field in the sector.

The government also reiterated a promise to give its views on a new high-speed Scotland to London railway line. The HS2 company, which has been set up under Sir David Rowlands, is due to submit a report on where the line should go and how it should be procured to the Department for Transport by the end of the year.

The Queen’s speech also included:

  • Plans to give agency workers who have been employed for over 12 weeks equal rights on holidays and pay to permanent workers.
  • A measure to make halving the budget deficit over four years a statutory obligation with more detail to come in the pre-budget report next month.
  • Plans to improve the UK’s response to flooding by clearly allocating responsibilities for managing flood risk and by introducing requirement that new developments would have to introduce sustainable drainage systems.

But the Federation of Master Builders said there was nothing in the speech to help increase lending to construction firms in the difficult economic climate.

“The range of measures announced today are essentially aspirational and political and overlook the needs of small businesses struggling to keep afloat,” said Brian Berry, FMB director of external affairs.

“Specific measures to get the banks lending to small businesses would have made a real difference as would a delivery plan to retrofit Britain’s 26 million homes, helping create and secure thousands of jobs in the building sector.”