Like everyone else, my attention has been elsewhere recently – what an amazing couple of weeks!
I’m having a break from the usual blogging this month, but to stop things slipping through the net entirely, here’s a fairly random round-up of some property law snippets that have caught my eye when I wasn’t looking the other way.
On 16th July 2012 the Treasury published a long awaited definition of an ‘environmental tax’ explains CMS Cameron Mckenna.
For some time, several nations have been mulling over the concept of moving some of the tax burden from traditional sources (for instance income), to activities which damage the environment or which need a stimulus to improve behaviour. If movement is to be made in this direction, Governments will need to be able to demonstrate this and a definition of environmental taxes will help to provide this demonstration.
To be an environmental tax, the tax must meet all of the following three criteria:-
· The tax must be explicitly linked to the Government’s environmental objective.
· The primary objective of the tax is to encourage positive behaviour change.
· The tax is structured in relation to environmental objectives and the more polluting the behaviour the greater the tax levied.
The committee advising the government considered the most important characteristic of an environmental tax is that it promotes more sustainable and less environmentally damaging behaviours regardless of why it was introduced.
The Treasury has identified the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme as being one “environmental tax” – which is what everyone was calling it anyway once it had stopped being a “revenue neutral” scheme.
Wedlake Bell warns of a bill quietly making its way through Parliament which would prevent pubs and local independent shops from being used for a supermarket and for connected purposes without planning permission (which is not currently required).
Will this bill, which has its second reading in October, be the saviour of local independent shops, or result in more empty premises?
The dangers of fly tipping and the related responsibilities of land owners and waste managers are explained by Howes Percival.
Businesses occupying more than one floor in a multi-storey building may now have the opportunity to save business rates reports Herbert Smith.
DMH Stallard explain Land Remediation Relief is relief on corporation tax available to companies that buy and develop contaminated or derelict land. The relief, introduced in 2001, was expected to be discontinued in 2012. However, the Government has announced that the relief will now continue to be available.
On 20 July 2012, DECC announced its response to its consultation on the solar industry subsidy, Feed-in Tariffs (FITs). The key changes to the FITs scheme stated in DECC’s response are explained in this bulletin by Eversheds.
Penningtons has produced a useful summary of the workings of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 and how it affects the ending and renewal of business tenancies – yes the Act’s been around a long time, but given the mountain, or perhaps swamp, of litigation it has produced over the years, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher.
Wragge & Co reports on a case which shows how difficult it is to get round the limitation of a right of way – even with the assistance of some sheep!
Key points are:
· A right of way granted for the benefit of land A cannot be used in order to get to land B (whether via land A or otherwise).
· The court will look at the substance of what is being done by the beneficiary of the easement in order to determine if there is a breach.
· The rule cannot be evaded by briefly leaving land A before moving on to land B.
The underlying reason for the rule is so that the burden of an easement is not increased. Using an easement for the benefit of a second or third parcel of land is likely to increase the burden. But this will not normally be the case where the land B is another means of access such as a highway.
Squatting is back in the spotlight - Caroline Delaney of Kingsley Napely reports that the statutory instrument formally enacting section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has now been made and so from 1 September 2012 it will be a criminal offence to squat in a residential building.
Anyone living in a residential building at that date, even if they entered before 1 September 2012, will be committing a criminal offence if they originally went in without permission, creating overnight a new category of criminals.
Commercial premises are excluded from the offence.
Caroline mentions that the Department of Justice (DoJ) has said they recognise the impact of squatters on commercial property but that they intend to see how the new offence “beds in” before considering whether to extend it.
In the meantime the DoJ will apparently be exploring existing eviction procedures and criminal offences such as burglary and criminal damage, to see how they can be better used to protect the owners of commercial property.