We discuss what the Queen’s Speech means for UK infrastructure and development.

The Queen’s Speech, which took place earlier today (14 October 2019), has outlined the government’s agenda for the year ahead and given us an insight into what lies in store for the infrastructure sector.

The Queen’s Speech is part of the State Opening of Parliament, the formal beginning of each new session of Parliament. The speech provides the government with an opportunity to highlight its priorities and the laws that the government wants Parliament to approve. Important parliamentary business in either the House of Commons or House of Lords cannot usually take place until after the speech has been given. This was the first Queen’s Speech since 21 June 2017, due to an unusually long two-year parliamentary session focusing on Brexit.

The Queen referenced infrastructure developments throughout the speech, outlining the government’s “long-term vision to improve the nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure”. This would be achieved through the delivery of fast and reliable broadband across the nation, as well as bringing forward proposals on railway reform.

With the UK’s pursuit of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Queen outlined the need to enshrine environmental principles in law. It was further reiterated that the government intended to improve air and water quality, as well as launch a drive to tackle issues of pollution, plastic waste and animal welfare.

The reception for the speech was mixed, with Liberal Democrat MP Sir Ed Davey labelling it a “fantasy Queen’s Speech”. Nevertheless, the speech undoubtedly highlighted the importance that the pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions will have upon the infrastructure and development sectors, in both the immediate and longer-term future. The reference to the upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy highlights that infrastructure and development remain key political priorities, in spite of the continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit.