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News in Brief: Plans to improve rail travel in the North, house building in Scotland on the rise

Words: Laura Edgar

A round up of planning news: Tuesday 3 March, 2015

Funding for Wales

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have announced new funding measures and more powers for the National Assembly. The measures are part of the UK Government’s St David’s Day (1 March) devolution package. The package includes removing a barrier “erected by the Welsh Government to calling a referendum on income tax devolution”, as well as further powers over energy, transport, the environment and elections.

Plans to improve rail travel in the North

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin have unveiled their plans to increase the number of trains and seats, and improve services, in the north of England. The Northern and TransPennine franchises will be required to provide plans for a variety of considerations, including: replacing outdated Pacer trains, introducing a fleet of new, modern trains, tackling crowding and investing in stations.

Wind farm gets £8.13m

A wind farm project in South Lanarkshire has received £8.13 million in funding. Stewart Energy Ltd owns the project and is made up of the Stewart family and Lesmahagow Development Trust, (LDT). Scottish Enterprise’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund has contributed £1.63 million and Santander Corporate & Commercial has contributed a £6 million senior loan and a £0.5 VAT facility. The wind farm, made up of three turbines, will have a capacity of 2.5 megawatts, which is enough to power 300 homes. LDT will use the income from the farm to support its own and the surrounding communities. Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “Shared ownership goes much further than standard community benefits payments. It puts decisions about energy into the hands of local people, and ensures that they can use the income from that energy to strengthen and revitalise their communities.”

Rise in house building in Scotland

The number of homes built in Scotland, for the full year ending September 2014, rose by 6 per cent in comparison with the previous year. In that period, 15,436 homes were completed. The Scottish Government said: “This equates to a rate of 289 per thousand people in Scotland compared with 214 in England and 194 in Wales.” In the year ending September 2014 there were 11,828 private sector led starts, which is an increase of 10 per cent, while the number of social sector homes started rose by 5 per cent. Housing minister Margaret Burgess said: “Our increased investment in house building has helped stimulate growth in the Scottish economy and led to more starts in the private and social sectors. We plan to spend over £1.7 billion to deliver our target of 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament. There is a £200 million increase in the housing budget for 2015-16 compared with the budget for 2014-15.”