The chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission has said Brexit and the hung parliament must not lead to ‘dither and delay’ on key infrastructure challenges.
In a speech on Monday, Lord Andrew Adonis, a former transport secretary, set out 12 top priority infrastructure projects that he said form an ‘acid test’ of the Government’s commitment to a ‘jobs first Brexit’.
They include Heathrow expansion, HS2 and HS3, the new Thames crossing, digital and broadband roll-out and new electricity generating capacity.
Lord Adonis said: ‘Britain’s historic weakness has been to underinvest in infrastructure, and to adopt a stop:go approach even where decisions are taken in principle. Nothing symbolises this more than the long-running saga of Heathrow airport. A third runway was agreed in principle 14 years ago but there has still not been a firm decision to proceed.’
He added: ‘Brexit and the hung parliament must not lead to dither and delay on the key infrastructure challenges facing the country. We need to press on with decisions on Heathrow, HS2 to the North of England, new electricity generating capacity, and radical improvements to digital communications, to underpin jobs and economic growth.
‘Rapid progress in the next year on these top 12 major projects and priorities is an acid test of the Government’s commitment to the "jobs first Brexit" which the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, argued for last week.'
Lord Adonis was backed by the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said: ‘It is vital that the government doesn’t get distracted from delivering on infrastructure projects both large and small. Day to day, small businesses rely particularly on a well-maintained local road network.’
Lord Adonis’ list of the ‘top 12 immediate priorities on which ministers must make rapid progress in the next year’ are:
1. Heathrow third runway.
2. High Speed 2
3. High Speed 3 (linking the major northern cities from Liverpool to Newcastle and Hull)
4. Crossrail 2 (linking north-east, central and south-west London)
5. Eastern crossings of the River Thames
6. Flexible power systems
7. Renewable energy
8. Decarbonisation of energy
9. Hinkley Point C
10. Broadband and mobile
11. 5G mobile
12. Water and flood defence infrastructure