Many local authority transport projects are under threat after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond MP suspended the approvals process for major schemes, and announced that previously-approved schemes will be reviewed in the autumn.
In a statement yesterday, Hammond announced he was suspending the major schemes guidance and associated approvals process until further notice, warning that not all schemes will be able to proceed on their planned timetable.
Plans are also being formulated to reform the way transport projects are prioritised.
All schemes that were granted conditional approval or programme entry by the previous Government will be reviewed as part of the autumn spending review and until then there are no assurances on funding support.
Public inquiries into three schemes have been suspended. Local authorities have been warned that schemes prioritised under the previous Government’s Regional Funding Allocation process may not be funded to expected levels.
Hammond said: “Given the uncertainties which both of these factors create, and in view of the likely budgetary constraints, and the consequent likelihood that not all schemes will be able to proceed on their planned timetable, it would be inappropriate for the Department to continue to invest time and resources on development of schemes at the same rate as before.
“Local Authorities will also wish to consider carefully whether investing further time and resources in developing such schemes ahead of the Spending Review is justified.”
Civil Engineering Contractors Association director Rosemary Beales said: “This puts a significant amount of potential work for contractors of all sizes in doubt. Whilst we understand that the deficit needs to be addressed, we urge the Department for Transport and the Government not to lose sight of the critical role that transport infrastructure plays in delivering productivity, prosperity and quality of life. They must balance the cuts we know they have to make with the need to invest in infrastructure as a foundation for future growth.”
“Following initial contact with the new Government we are now seeking an urgent meeting with the Department for Transport to discuss this.”