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Infrastructure a priority for government, says Mandelson

Infrastructure was identified as one of four immediate priority areas for action, along with innovation, skills and finance in a strategy launched by business secretary Peter Mandelson this week.

The report, Building Britain’s Future - New Industry, New Jobs, identifies key areas where government actions can have most impact, investing in growth to speed recovery and building manufacturing and services essential to ensure British people and businesses can compete successfully for the jobs of the future.

“Effective modern infrastructure is fundamental to the competitiveness of British business,” read the report. “From energy and communications to transport and airports, in the decades ahead the country needs to make significant investments in new infrastructure. Much of this infrastructure development will be in response to public policy, although it will be funded and delivered by the private sector.”

However there are concerns that money allocated towards transport in this years budget could be directly predominately at the road network, rather than long term improvement in public transport.

“Transport is one of the areas touted for any fiscal stimulus,” said a Campaign for Better Transport spokesman. “It already had some in last year’s pre-Budget report, paying for several road schemes and new hard shoulder running schemes on motorways as well as 200 new rail carriages. Mindful of the Governor of the Bank of England’s warning against new borrowing, the government has been exploring options for transport spending that involve bringing forward already planned schemes or reallocating existing funding.

“The government has been developing longer term transport schemes, including a programme of rail electrification and the development of new high speed lines, but it also is progressing a very expensive widening of the M25 and has continued to support airport expansion. However, the recession adds to transport spending pressures (for example to prop up rail franchises) and given the government’s financial state there is concern that future transport spending could be cut and that the axe will fall on local transport projects to protect big road schemes like the M25 widening.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • The 2007 floods are now almost two years away, but it is reported that some of those who suffered have still not been able to return to their homes. The run down state of the land drainage system as shown so clearly on the TV reports is in need of much work. This would apply to "main river" as well as to publicly or privately owned watercourses and ditches which have been denied maintenance or have been progressively filled in or nominally piped over many years along with so many ponds. As is typical of land drainage work it provides the need for a broad range of skills and would appear to ideally fit as an excellent area for infrastructure works providing local employment.

    If the land drainage system is not improved the piped sewerage system will continue to be inundated - it needs to be protected.

    Whilst it gives sensible sounding sound bites to restrict the further development of flood plains, it does not make sense. The 10% of the population who live on flood plains are not suddenly going to move to the hills. Protection of the flood plains enables development to continue in a sensible fashion with appropriate designs, and in effect provides funds for improvements. Lack of further development can only lead to further decay.

    We should not have people living in such areas of flood risk.

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