Leaders in the transport and engineering sectors have stressed the importance of maintaining stability following the vote to leave the European Union, amid fears that turmoil could undermine investment in infrastructure.
Rupert Clubb, president of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), told Transport Network that reaction to the vote, with over £100bn wiped off the value of stocks and the pound at a 35-year low, was ‘quite scary stuff’.
ADEPT president Rupert Clubb
While stressing that it was ‘really early days’, Mr Clubb said: ‘Investor confidence in the short-term will take a bit of a knock.' But he expressed a hope that it 'will be relatively short-term and that confidence increases’.
Mr Clubb said that businesses and industry had been telling senior ADEPT figures before the vote that they were deferring investment decisions.
He said: ‘We hope that over the coming months they get the confidence that enables them to make that investment.’
He added: ‘I’m not sure in the longer term what it does for the skills market.’
Mr Clubb said: ‘One of the main messages from ADEPT is we’ve still got a job of work to do. The result doesn’t mean that we will stop driving for growth, supporting infrastructure for housing, supporting infrastructure for employment space.
‘I know that my colleagues around the country will be focussing on that, despite the turmoil that’s potentially going to go on around us.’
Marie-Claude Hemming head of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) also warned that the effect of the vote on markets could discourage long-term investment in Britain's infrastructure.
She said: ‘The UK must act to secure its economy, but growth will only be delivered if supported by world-class infrastructure.
‘CECA therefore calls on ministers to now to first stabilise Government, then re-establish their commitment to the projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Plan, most notably HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow in order to maintain economic confidence following such a substantial change in the UK's relationship with the European Union and the rest of the world.’
Patrick Flaherty, chief executive – UK & Ireland - of infrastructure firm AECOM said: 'It is critical that the domestic agenda is not sidelined as the UK faces a minimum of two years of negotiations to leave the EU. Focus must remain on energy security and energy independence, as well as progressing the UK’s ambitious infrastructure pipeline.
'Schemes such as HS2, Crossrail 2 and the Northern Powerhouse programme are vital to the country’s ability to compete on a global stage, which is more crucial than ever due to this referendum result.'