'Crunch time' for UK infrastructure

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
31 October 2017

Only a fifth of firms are satisfied with the pace of infrastructure delivery in the UK, according to a survey.

The 2017 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey found three-quarters (74%) of businesses doubted infrastructure would improve over this parliament, primarily because of concerns around policy inconsistency and political risk.

The poll of 727 firms also showed dissatisfaction with regional infrastructure had increased, with more than half (54%) discontent, up 8% on last year’s survey.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “We’ve seen a real commitment from the government on infrastructure over the past year, from decisions on Heathrow and the A303 [Stonehenge bypass tunnel] to pledges to scale up the supply of housing and clean energy.

“But our survey shows this is not translating into optimism about future improvements among both firms and the public, who are united in their concern about the pace of delivery for new projects. We’ve now reached crunch time for the UK’s infrastructure.”

The survey found 68% of firms were not confident road infrastructure would improve over the coming years, with 61% feeling the same about rail and 65% not confident about aviation. Almost two-thirds were not confident the UK’s competitiveness would improve by 2030 because of its infrastructure.

Concerning Brexit, the areas where EU funding was seen as most important were energy, roads, digital and aviation. The roads sector was where there was the most doubt that funding would continue at a similar level post-Brexit.

Richard Robinson, chief executive – civil infrastructure, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa at AECOM, said: “The next five years present a huge opportunity for the government to set in train a lasting legacy for future generations.

“The link between transport and long-term plans for other vital infrastructure such as energy, water, waste and housing must also be considered. A clear vision for integration will be essential to accommodate the UK’s projected population growth and maintain economic prosperity.”

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