Contractors and politicians have called on ministers to back the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission, which has published its first complete assessment of the country’s infrastructure needs.
Marie-Claude Hemming, director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said: ‘CECA campaigned for many years for an infrastructure commission, to resolve the short-termism and lack of long-term strategy that has historically undermined the delivery of major infrastructure projects in the UK. We welcome the fact that today’s report starts to make this vision a reality.
‘The Government has committed to lay the Assessment before Parliament and to respond to it in six months to a year detailing recommendations that have been agreed to, any further work required, and alternative proposals if necessary.’
Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram said: ‘Through devolution, we have a huge opportunity to drive through the big infrastructure projects that can transform the Liverpool City Region, where governments have previously failed.
‘That’s why since I was elected I have prioritised three key investment projects to deliver enhanced transport connectivity, renewable energy and ultra-fast digital connectivity, which are the foundations for our future prosperity.
‘We need further northern devolution to deliver Transport for the North’s strategic transport plan. We need to connect Liverpool and Manchester with new twin-track railway lines as part of delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail, and connecting it with HS2.
‘Work on phase 2b of HS2 must start at the same time in the North as it does in the Midlands, and we need to develop deliverable plans for a new station in Liverpool city centre to accommodate HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail services.’
Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) said: ‘We were delighted to see unambiguous backing for two significant transport projects of national importance in the assessment, Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
'It is vital we don’t lose the knowledge and expertise gained in the construction of Crossrail, which is why the Government should give both of these projects the green-light immediately.’
Responding to the NIC’s call for more powers to be given to the metromayors and city leaders, Dr Ogunshakin added: ‘It is vital that these areas are given more powers to influence decisions on transport, housing and employment. Devolved infrastructure budgets will enable strategic interventions for the good of local communities by bodies who fully understand local needs.’
Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association, sounded a critical note.
He said: ‘The Commission’s recommendation that Government provide £500m a year of funding from 2025/26 to 2034/35 to address the local road maintenance backlog is too little too late. It fails to recognise the extent of the severe deterioration resulting from decades of under-investment. £9.3bn is required now to bring the local road network up to a reasonable standard not in seven years’ time.
'Any extra funding is to be welcomed but based on the Commission's recommendations it will take more than 18 years to bring the local road network up to standard. The question is that given that one in five local roads are in such a poor state that they may need replacing within five years, will we actually have any local roads by then?’
A Government spokesperson said it welcomes the NIC’s ambition on electric vehicles, and is fully committed to the UK to becoming a world-leader in the ultra-low emission vehicle market, investing nearly £1.5bn to support the uptake.
The spokeesperson said: 'We welcome the NIC’s ambition on electric vehicles, and we are fully committed to the UK to becoming a world leader in the ultra-low emission vehicle market and we are investing nearly £1.5bn to support the uptake.'