Election fallout: Will transport schemes be hit?

 

The Conservatives are set to form a minority government, which could affect a range of transport issues from Heathrow expansion to road schemes even if the Conservatives remain in Government.

Although Theresa May intends to continue as prime minister, with the support of the DUP, we are now entering a time of uncertainty.

The currency markets last night rose and fell almost as a bellweather against a hung parliament, with city investors crying out for some form of the 'strong and stable' government once promised by the PM.

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Is Heathrow expansion at risk?

With international financial markets yet to even face the actual Brexit negotiations, which were due to start in under a fortnight, many in the infrastructure sector are feeling nervous about supplies of major investment.    

Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: ‘Our most recent member survey showed orders dropping for infrastructure contractors for the first quarter since 2013. A lack of clear leadership in Westminster creates a real risk that this potential future downturn will become entrenched due to an inability to get vital decisions over the line.

‘We hope that there will be an early resolution to the current uncertainty over the shape of any new Government, allowing decisions on projects such as HS2 to be made and work to get underway on building the infrastructure that the UK needs.’

Anti-expansion campaign group HACAN claimed on Friday that over half of London’s MPs are likely to oppose a third runway at Heathrow. It said its research found that 31 of the capital’s 73 MPs are known to oppose expanding the airport.

HACAN chair John Stewart said: ‘Once the views of all London’s MPs are known, it is highly likely that a majority will be opposed to Heathrow expansion. Of themselves they may not stop it but they could act as a very awkward bloc to a new runway ever seeing the light of day, particularly given the fact that the new Government doesn’t have a majority of seats in Parliament.’

Addressing illegal levels of air pollution will represent a serious challenge for any government, particularly the Conservatives who have failed twice to put forward a planned process the courts can agree to.

The Government was forced to publish a new draft national air quality plan during the election campaign but campaign group ClientEarth has already said it believes the plan to be inadequate and is taking ministers back to court for a third time.

Another major infrastructure project that could come under scrutiny is the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which is backed by current transport secretary Chris Grayling and could cost up to £6bn.

Labour has said it supports the scheme but that if it came into government it would ‘need to ensure that the decision making process has been completely robust and represents the best value for money’.

Labour’s manifesto also pledged to ‘refocus the roads building and maintenance programmes, connecting our communities, feeding public transport hubs and realising untapped economic potential’.

 
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