New state-owned lender 'could accelerate upgrades to Britain’s creaking infrastructure'

News of a new infrastructure bank that could provide “billions of pounds” of new funding for UK capital projects as part of the post-Covid-19 recovery, leads today's newspaper round-up.

The Treasury is drawing up plans for a new infrastructure bank to provide “billions of pounds” of new funding for capital projects, the Financial Times (subscription required) reports. It says the new state-owned lender “could accelerate upgrades to Britain’s creaking infrastructure”. It is intended to take the place of the European Investment Bank, which the UK is unlikely to remain a member of after the end of the Brexit transition period later this year. The paper expects chancellor Rishi Sunak to confirm the move in his autumn statement.

The Guardian reports on new Office for National Statistics figures showing UK retail sales in June were back “close to pre-coronavirus levels” - though these include online spending. And while electrical, DIY and furniture sales “snapped back to similar levels as before the pandemic”, clothing remains “depressed” and overall sales in non-food stores remain "about a third below pre-pandemic levels".

A British company is seeking permission to construct a high-capacity connection under the English Channel to boost surplus electricity trading between the UK and France, according to the Times (subscription). Aquind says the 2-gigawatt connection from Normandy to Portsmouth and inland to Lovedean, Hampshire could be operational by 2023, but Portsmouth City Council has already objected to the “significant disruption” it says the project will bring.

The Telegraph (subscription) says that, rather than erecting more mobile phone masts, a £200,000 government fund has been launched to develop mobile cells that can attach to overhead rail lines and gantries, to ensure consistent mobile connections on trains.

David and Victoria Beckham have hit local opposition to their plans to create a “kidney-shaped” lake at their £6.5m Grade II listed home in Oxfordshire, the Times says. Though the application says it is intended to “improve the landscape both aesthetically and in terms of biodiversity”, West Oxfordshire Council’s biodiversity officer said the loss of the grassland would “impact on protected and priority species”. A neighbour called the plan “monstrous-looking”.

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