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Fresh plea for independent infrastructure planning body

Manufacturers have called for an independent Infrastructure Authority to be created to address the nation’s long term requirements.

Trade body EEF said the new organisation was needed to end decades of poor planning of the networks that keep the UK competitive.

The Labour party has previously pledged to establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission if it gets into power next year, in line with a recommendation in Sir John Armitt’s review of UK infrastructure policy, which the party commissioned.

But the EEF claimed its proposal went even further.

“Political prevarication and policy reversals have left Britain in the slow lane in developing its infrastructure for decades,” said EEF business environment policy adviser Chris Richards.

“The neglect of our roads, the indecision on expanding airport capacity and the agonising over high speed rail routes connecting our major cities have only served to exacerbate the feeling that Britain’s infrastructure is not geared up to support growth.

“We now have the opportunity to put in place a new independent system that will aid long-term planning supporting more of a consensus-based approach in identifying future needs. All political parties need to commit to this in their forthcoming manifestos.”

Under the EEF proposal, the authority would carry out a national infrastructure assessment every five years to identify challenges and trends, and outline when decisions needed to be made.

Consultations would then be held, before analysis was provided to the government to make the final decisions.

The authority would also be tasked with providing an annual progress report to Parliament. 

Richards added: “In a nutshell, a UK Infrastructure Authority would add value by horizon-scanning for future challenges, and ensuring debates are backed by trusted analysis.”

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