What Will The National Infrastructure Strategy Mean In Practice?
The UK could be on the cusp of an exciting new age for transport infrastructure. As part of the Government’s Build Back Better initiative, there are bold plans sketched out to upgrade roads and improve connectivity between the nations of the UK and across key regions such as the Northern Powerhouse.
Perhaps the most eye-catching plans are those to reopen rail lines and stations that were closed in the 1960s following the Beeching Review. It’s not so much the size of the investment involved that makes the plan significant as the statement it makes about national transport policy. Reinstating rail lines and reopening stations sends an important message, as does the consultation on further disused lines that could be candidates for restoration.
Economic prosperity, ‘levelling up’ and the growth of employment opportunities are all closely linked to the efficiency and reliability of transport infrastructure. In recognition of this, the strategy calls for long-term funding commitments in place of the stop-start budgeting that has made it harder for operators, asset owners and contractors to plan, innovate and invest in skills development.
Investment in economic infrastructure will be £27 billion in 2021-22 with longer-term settlements promised for key infrastructure programmes including strategic roads, rail, broadband and flood defences.
Any transport strategy obviously needs to take into account commitments to achieving net carbon zero targets and to the phasing out of petrol and diesel powered vehicles. These goals are reflected in substantial investments to expand networks for safe cycling and walking and to transform the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles, including the increase in on-street charging schemes.
The National Infrastructure Strategy promises a brave new world for road and rail networks. It’s also a weighty document. So to help you get to grips with the main points and to understand what’s around the corner, Osborne Infrastructure has created a summary that you can download for free.