The Infrastructure Bill is making its way through the Lords

The Infrastructure Bill is making its way through the Lords

Campaigners fear ‘sloppy drafting’ in a coalition Government bill could open the door to public land being sold off to private companies.

The Open Spaces Society said the Infrastructure Bill making its way through Parliament put common land, public paths and open spaces at risk of privatisation.

The society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, said the bill, currently in the House of Lords, appears to allow ministers to transfer land of public value to the Homes and Communities Agency and other bodies, and after that to developers.

The charity said this could not only be a rerun of the threat to the public forest estate, but it could affect other land treasured by the public.

In the second-reading debate last week the minister of state for transport, Baroness Kramer, said that the Government is committed to England’s public forest estate and national parks remaining secure in public ownership for the people who enjoy them and the businesses that depend on them and that the bill was about transferring surplus land from Government agencies. But the OSS said the wording of the Bill has no such limitations.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said: “This may be sloppy drafting, but we are deeply concerned that the bill could open the door to the development and loss of land and public paths which are valued by local people.

“These assets are of immense importance and are part of our history. We shall ask Lords to table amendments to clarify the bill and to limit its effect.”

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