Posted by

Peter Campbell, Policy Adviser

21 Mar 2012

The well-trailed announcement that the government was keen to unlock private sector investment for our roads through increased use of tolling was the headline, however there were also interesting points made about aviation, energy and telecoms.

Accepting the need for more capacity in the South East, the Prime Minister hinted at Gatwick’s potential, as well as providing the clearest indication yet of his support, in principle, for an airport in the Thames Estuary. On energy, he threw the government’s weight fully behind off-shore wind as the renewable energy source of choice, while announcing they will begin working with energy companies to design new nuclear power stations to replace those approaching the end of their working lives. Finally, on telecoms Mr Cameron reiterated the government’s plans to connect our core cities with ultra-fast broadband, while providing a minimum level of connectivity of 2MB to the rest of the country.

It is not enough for the government to simply give inspiring speeches. The business community must see leadership and action following speeches like this, two things which have been lacking so far. Unacceptable delays to the publication of the government’s aviation policy framework until after the May local elections do not instil confidence. Nor does the fact we are only now getting round to discussing the replacement of our aging nuclear power plants. Business needs certainty of action, not just talk, that the lights will remain on and connections with the world will still be possible.

This year, the BCC plans to rate the government’s progress on those projects cited in the Transport Priorities Map published in 2010, as well as produce a new version. Aimed at identifying where best to spend limited financial resources to achieve the biggest economic benefits, this will be a call to arms to the next government to deliver on its infrastructure promises.

You can find more details about the Prime Minister’s speech on the Number 10 website here. Please follow the links for recent BCC statements and publications on infrastructure, aviation and high speed rail. For further information contact p.campbell@britishchambers.org.uk