The UK’s Top 40 Infrastructure Projects
Boosting the nation’s infrastructure is a key part of the Government’s growth strategy. In its National Infrastructure Plan, released in November 2011, HM Treasury identified the 40 infrastructure projects deemed to be top priority. However, have these lofty ambitions been realised? Alex Burrows, Head of Transport and Infrastructure at Insight Public Affairs, investigates.
Whilst the Government avoided the political nightmare of a triple dip recession this was in spite of, not because of, the construction sector. In the first three months of 2013 construction output fell by 2.5%, and critics have again rounded on the Government’s early decision to slash capital spending typically spent on financing infrastructure projects. In response to these criticisms, the Government points to its National Infrastructure Plan which has identified a top 40 of projects prioritised for funding. But have these grand plans been delivered? Will economic growth be delivered on the back of improved infrastructure in the UK or will the Government miss its targets?
Of the 40 pledges in the national infrastructure plan, the Coalition has delivered 13 of the projects, 20 are in progress and seven have not yet been started. This suggests that the Government has made good progress in this area, however several projects are significantly behind schedule. We have seen the flagship scheme – High Speed 2 – seemingly get bogged down in a political dogfight across the Chilterns. However, the reality on High Speed 2 is that this is a project that has already seen a vast amount of work undertaken. If we look at the infrastructure sector we can see a real determination to deliver and a desire to see the Government commit to a pipeline of projects. This would bring certainty to the sector to make long term plans and to invest in creating new jobs and a better-skilled workforce in order to deliver these projects.
Investing in our national infrastructure provides clear short and long term benefits to the economy. Building new transport, energy or communications infrastructure or improving and enhancing our existing infrastructure creates jobs straight away; in the long term it keeps Britain competitive – against other economies who are investing and expanding rapidly. These top 40 projects are the tip of the iceberg; the Government urgently needs to focus its mind now on ensuring more effective delivery or it will find that we are shunted into the sidings.