“Today’s speech shows the government has quite rightly recognised the important role infrastructure will play in our post-pandemic recovery, but we’re still not seeing levels of funding needed for us to truly deliver and support that recovery. Spending on health, education, defence and our transport infrastructure are of course welcome, but the funding that has been announced to date is just the beginning of the investment that is needed.
“With the news of vaccines and potentially a light at the end of the tunnel, we should now look at how we build a positive legacy off the back of what has been a challenging year for all of us. We must consider what we want to achieve and the benefits we want to deliver to society rather than just simply charging headlong in. That is why I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister’s ‘build, build, build’, slogan now seems to have been replaced with ‘build back better’. Let’s get it right, engage with communities, design and build a legacy we can be proud of, only then can we realise the Chancellor’s vision to build ‘pride in the places we call home’.
“As we look to 2021 and a year that will see the United Kingdom host the COP26 summit, I’d hoped for more focus on tackling the climate crisis in the Chancellor’s speech. Once into the detail I can see funding for carbon capture and storage, alternative energy and the drive to Net-Zero, but I feel the government missed an opportunity to show the world that it means business when it talks of building back greener. As we saw with the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan last week we still have a long way to go if we are serious about tackling the climate crisis.
“On first reading of the National Infrastructure Strategy, I’m pleased to see that the government remains committed to investing £500m to restore transport services previously lost in the Beeching cuts, including the opening of the Ashington-Blyth, Northumberland line. As a key member of the partnership that will deliver this ‘Project Speed’ rail upgrade, my AECOM colleagues and I look forward to seeing this innovative project delivered; creating jobs, connecting communities and setting the example for other Beeching reversals.
“On funding, it’s encouraging to hear plans for a dedicated Infrastructure Investment Bank, something that we and many voices in our industry have been championing for some time. The government must be open to creating and attracting new ways of financing our infrastructure, and detail depending, this should go some way in helping us drive more private cash into our projects.
“What we need to see between now and the Chancellor’s next fiscal statement are the details and decisions that are buried in the National Infrastructure Strategy. How is procurement going to change for the better, details on changes to the Green Book, how is the infrastructure bank going to work and confirmation and swift adoption of key recommendations such as the integrated rail plan.” – Colin Wood, Regional Chief Executive, Europe, AECOM