Clegg vows to speed up 40 infrastructure projects

Aaron Morby 13 years ago

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today pledged to boost the flagging economy by pushing through 40 major infrastructure projects.

In a speech at the London School of Economics, he said major infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail and new broadband networks, are to be given “priority status”.

But his pledge came with no extra cash to get schemes moving.

Instead ministers will be told to intervene to prevent any hold-ups on the projects, such as rolling out broadband, motorway improvements and upgrading the national grid, and “get the money out the door”.

Institution of Civil Engineers director general Tom Foulkes, said: “The commitment to a ‘vision’ for UK infrastructure, the prioritisation of key projects that could kick-start economic growth and direct ministerial responsibility for delivering these projects is encouraging news.

“However, the real show of Government’s commitment to infrastructure as a long term driver of growth will be the imminent second edition of the National Infrastructure Plan.

“A plan that is simply a long list of projects stretching into the far future or across Whitehall compendium of initiatives, will not succeed.

“It must be tightly focused, setting out what the UK needs from its infrastructure and clear steps to attracting the necessary investment,” he added.

“It should also map out how Government will create a political, regulatory and commercial environment that is conducive to achieving the goals of the plan. NIP 2 presents an opportunity that cannot be missed.”

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner, said: “While this speech is welcome, with figures just a fortnight ago showing near-calamitous order figures for the construction industry as a whole, a focus on haste is now required.

“Firms facing collapsing order books and margins squeezed between falling tender prices and soaring costs, literally cannot afford to wait much longer for new work.”

He added: “So what is crucial is that these welcome words turn quickly into shovels on the ground.

“Only then will we see any return of confidence to the construction sector, and hopefully the broader economy, allowing the much-hyped private sector-led recovery to really gain pace.”

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