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Budget 2016: Infrastructure reaction

Words: Laura Edgar
Rail infrastructure / Shutterstock_58222861

Infrastructure measures announced in the Budget 2016 include support for Crossrail 2 and High Speed 3. Here, the views of industry professionals have been collated by The Planner.

Members don’t want tentative studies


Research consultancy has said it is “pleased” that the chancellor is moving forwards on key infrastructure projects, from HS3 to Crossrail 2.

However, June Davis, BSIRA business manager for the North of England, said: “These projects remain at a very preliminary stage, and [our] members don’t want just ‘tentative’ studies that never come to fruition. The chancellor needs to push all of the projects announced to the delivery phase to give businesses real confidence.”

She said HS3 should be kick-started across The Pennines to reduce journey times to half-an-hour.

She emphasised, though, “we must not wait decades for change”.

“These infrastructure upgrades are essential for moving traffic – and therefore business around the North, and can’t come a day too soon,” she concluded.

Initiatives don’t address current infrastructure


According to Simon Topp, director of marketing and international business at service provider Yotta, it is hard not to reach the conclusion that transport infrastructure “remains relatively unloved by this government”.

He said: “The big infrastructure announcements primarily relate to new capital spending, with the Crossrail 2 and High Speed 3 rail projects both being given the green light and with more than £230 million earmarked for the upgrade of roads in the north of England. While these initiatives are positive, they don’t address the problem of improving or protecting our existing infrastructure. In fact, they effectively make that problem even more challenging.”

Strong infrastructure investment


The Budget 2016 suggests a “long-term plan for the next generation”, as well as a “strong commitment to investing in infrastructure”, said Richard Laming, director, head of economics at Turley.

However, the lead-in times for such improvements – Trans Pennine Tunnel and a HS3 link between Manchester and Leeds – mean, continued Laming, “that businesses will have to wait a long time to see real improvements in connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse”.

“In the face of unprecedented levels of investment in the Northern Powerhouse’s transport infrastructure, it will be important not to lose sight of the need to secure complementary investment in places and people.”

A ‘conservative budget’


John Hicks, director and head of government and public, AECOM, said: “Osborne declared this a Conservative Budget. And conservative it was.”

He said the possibility of the UK leaving Europe may have “cast a cloud of uncertainty over proceedings”.

“Additional money for flood defences was positive news. While commitments to HS3 and Crossrail 2 are welcome, the risk is this will be tantamount to rhetoric unless the pace of delivery is accelerated. The ongoing silence around delivery is becoming deafening,” said Hicks.

Budget for offshore wind tight


RenewableUK has welcomed the announcement that funding will be available for future rounds of competitive auctions to support offshore wind farms.

Deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “The budget is tight, but we’re up for the challenge. We’re confident it will deliver 3.5 gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity between 2021 and 2025 – powering more than 3.5 million British homes.”

He said the Budget suggests that offshore wind would be cheaper than new nuclear power and competing with gas by 2025, “making it even better value for money”.

This announcement, Smith concluded, “will increase confidence, attracting billions of pounds of investment in the UK’s supply chain. It’s long-term commitments such as this which will keep the UK as the number one destination in the world for investors in this technology.”

An overview of the infrastructure measures in the Budget can be found here.

Budget 2016 can be found here.

Image credit | Shuttershock