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Labour manifesto leaves little between major parties on infrastructure

The Labour Party has pledged to continue with High Speed 2 (HS2), make a swift decision on airport expansion and allow safe fracking if it wins the General Election.

Ed Miliband’s party gave infrastructure a major role in its manifesto, published today ahead of voters going to the poll next month.

The party’s manifesto included few surprises from a construction point of view, with Labour supporting many of the measures taken by the current government.

Well trailed plans to introduce an independent National Infrastructure Commission to give stability to project planning were included.

“Building world-class infrastructure will be crucial to fostering economic growth,” said the manifesto, Britain Can Be Better.”We will create certainty for investors by taking a long-term approach to the major investment decisions facing the country. We will set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission to assess how best to meet Britain’s infrastructure needs,” it says.

“This will make recommendations to government, monitor their implementation, and hold government to account.

“These measures and our long-term approach will help reinforce Britain’s status as one of the world’s greatest centres of science and engineering.”

The controversial £43bn HS2 line from London to the North would go ahead under Labour although it has pledged to “keep costs down”.

Other transport policies in the manifesto include spending on local roads and acting swiftly on the battle between Heathrow and Gatwick to expand.

On energy, Labour promised to back renewables, carbon capture and storage technology, and onshore oil and gas exploration.

Engineers broadly welcomed Labour’s plans and the similarities between the two main parties on infrastructure.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association director general Alasdair Reisner said: “We welcome the support for the National Infrastructure Commission, and endorse the drive to deliver HS2 efficiently, although we would be concerned if this involved de-scoping the project.

“We support safe fracking and the desire to tackle road conditions, and generally the manifesto has what we would like to see in it.

“All parties have recognised the importance of investing in infrastructure. This is positive as big differences in opinion would create uncertainty before the election.”

ICE director general Nick Baveystock added: “Labour’s manifesto rightly acknowledges the critical role of infrastructure in fostering economic growth, [as well as] the need for further devolution and an ambitious decarbonisation target.

“It also recognises the need to create certainty across the investment community.

“Given the constraints on public finances - whoever wins come 7 May - this has never been more important.”


Liberal democrats set out infrastructure vision

A Liberal Democrat government would not allow expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick, the party has declared.

Its election manifesto also rules out a new airport in the Thames Estuary and a further runway at Stansted.

The Sir Howard Davies-led Airports Commission is due to recommend this summer which of the two main London airports should be allowed a new runway to alleviate air capacity concerns in the South East.

But the Liberal Democrat manifesto says: “We remain opposed to any expansion of Heathrow, Stansted or Gatwick and any new airport in the Thames Estuary, because of local issues of air and noise pollution.

We will ensure no net increase in runways across the UK.”

The party did pledge to back HS2 and to extend the line to Scotland, as part of a raft of rail investment measures.

Plans to attract more than £100bn of private investment in low carbon energy infrastructure by 2020 were also set out. From 2030, all new gas stations would require carbon capture and storage technology.

Onshore wind energy and nuclear power would also have a role to play.

The manifesto adds: “In our Spending Review, we will set out long-term plans for capital expenditure, and ensure that investment in infrastructure, including in housing and energy efficiency, continues to rise both in absolute terms and as a share of the economy.”

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