End 'stop start' approach to infrastructure investment

End 'stop start' approach to infrastructure investment

Britain urgently needs an independent infrastructure commission to take control of vital transport projects and to end the damaging “stop-start” approach of successive governments, an influential industry group has warned.  By The Telegraph’s Nathalie Thomas.

Political squabbling, under-investment and short-termism is discouraging investors from backing UK projects, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) says, and Britain is falling behind rival economies due to inertia over controversial issues such as airport runways (see photo).

ICE is pressing for an independent infrastructure commission to help develop and implement a long-term transport strategy that would survive political cycles.

Debates such as where to build additional runways in the South East have been raging for decades due to Governments reversing decisions taken by previous administrations.

No new full-length runway has been built in Britain since 1946 despite numerous white papers and inquiries.

Sensitive issues should be handled by a “Transport Futures Board”, according to the ICE, which would be able to investigate solutions independently of government and the political parties.

Professor Barry Clarke, president of the ICE, said investors “lack certainty and stability” under the current approach to transport strategy in this country.

When the government-backed Airports Commission does finally make a decision over where to build additional runways in the south-east of England in 2015, the scheme should be fast-tracked through “an Olympic-style delivery mechanism”, the ICE said.

The Olympic Delivery Authority has been widely praised for ensuring the 2012 games were on time and under budget.

Since 1990, France has laid more than the equivalent of Britain’s entire motorway network. Bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have warned in the past that low investment in public infrastructure in Britain has led to congestion on the roads and at airports, which is hampering productivity.

Meanwhile, the most senior official at the Department for Transport, Philip Rutnam, has blamed a two-year delay in finalising a £1.6bn contract to build new train carriages for the £6bn Thameslink rail project on uncertainty in the financial markets, created by the eurozone crisis. He also admitted the complexity of the deal had been “greater than expected”.

This article was originally featured on telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs

Monday, 24 June 2013

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

Be the first to make a comment...