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Sun October 25 2020

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Industry gives mixed response to government infrastructure plan

26 Oct 10 The National Infrastructure Plan, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on 25 October, has been welcomed by civil engineers but deemed "flawed" by builders.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association national director Rosemary Beales said: “We are extremely encouraged by the National Infrastructure Plan, which sets out the scale of the UK’s requirements in energy, transport, digital communications, flood protection, water and waste management. CECA has lobbied hard for government to take a long-term and holistic view of infrastructure and the investment needed to maintain a competitive economy.

“Despite the recent cuts to road schemes and the fact that contractors are undoubtedly facing a difficult few years, there appears to be a new level of commitment to infrastructure. It is vital we work with government to put in place the funding and other conditions to unlock major projects.

“This is an ambitious plan that links strategic and local infrastructure in the context of economic growth and sets out a comprehensive overview of next steps including the Green Investment Bank, National Policy Statements for planning in areas of major infrastructure and the costs of civil engineering study.

“As the report acknowledges, there is a need for a new approach to investing in the UK’s infrastructure, one that provides clarity and consistency over greater periods than we have had in the past. The National Infrastructure Plan is a strong step in that direction.”

The Institution of Civil Engineers said: “Though the United Kingdom faces difficult and unparalleled economic circumstances, ICE is encouraged that the government appears to be listening to the case for a long-term, strategic and sustainable approach to infrastructure delivery to support economic growth.”

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However, the Federation of Master Builders said that the plan was “fundamentally flawed” because it excludes the need for new housing.

FMB director of external affairs Brian Berry said: “The government is right to be looking at renewal of the nation’s infrastructure but it cannot afford to ignore new housing provision as it contributes to the delivery of everything else. Economic growth is simply not sustainable without the delivery of new housing and the government must show it is serious about investment in the UK’s housing needs, when there are some five million people in the UK on the housing waiting lists.”

He continued: “New housing provides the test bed for cutting edge micro generation technologies, which help address the energy security and carbon emission reduction agendas. Housing and regeneration developments also make billions of pounds worth of contributions to transport, and water management infrastructure as well as education and health through section 106 agreements.

“The government is right to prioritize greening the existing housing stock through its Green Deal but it must not forget that the country desperately needs more housing if we are to have a sustained economic recovery. New housing schemes contribute to both paying for infrastructure projects and job creation and as such the Government needs to be giving house building a much higher priority.”  

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