UK manufacturers called yesterday for the creation of an independent Infrastructure Authority to address long-term strategic requirements and encourage investment.
The manufacturers’ organisation the EFF issued the call, saying it was aimed at “ending decades of political wrangling and poor planning”.
The EEF highlighted concerns over “the UK’s neglected road and energy infrastructure [and] continued prevarication over expanding airport capacity” and quoted research suggesting half of foreign-owned firms identify aviation infrastructure as “a key factor” in deciding where to invest.
EEF business environment policy adviser Chris Richards said: “Political prevarication and policy reversals have left Britain in the slow lane in developing its infrastructure.
“The neglect of our roads, the indecision on expanding airport capacity and the agonising over high-speed rail routes have only served to exacerbate the feeling that Britain’s infrastructure is not geared up to support growth.”
The EEF suggested the UK currently lacks “the institutional framework to identify, plan and deliver major projects.
This leads to projects being identified too late, with little or no time for a proper assessment or public debate”.
It added: “When infrastructure projects do finally go ahead, it is through desperate necessity with the sky-high costs associated with such an approach.”
The EEF proposes a single UK Infrastructure Authority which could work in the same way as the Committee on Climate Change, the Airports Commission and the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The authority would have a board accountable to Parliament and be tasked with developing a National Infrastructure Assessment every five years to look at infrastructure needs over the next 10-50 years.
The EFF said: “Just as with the Airports Commission, the final decision would be taken by the Government of the day, underpinned by independent analysis from the authority.”
The proposals follow a review on behalf of the Labour Party by former Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt which called for the establishment of an independent infrastructure commission.
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