Labour will establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission if the party is returned to power at the next General Election next year, party leader Ed Miliband has said.
Establishing the commission was a key recommendation of Sir John Armitt’s review of UK infrastructure policy, published last September. Former Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Armitt was asked to carry out the review by shadow chancellor Ed Balls.
The review said UK infrastructure policy to be made a national priority alongside health and education. It said policy should be planned 25 to 30 years ahead, and be overseen by an independent commission.
Miliband urged other political parties to accept the recommendation of an independent commission.
Coalition policy is to support the National Infrastructure Plan, launched in 2010 and updated each year since.
The idea of an independent infrastructure commission is supported by the ICE, and in its State of the Nation report last month, the Institution called for more “clarity” on infrastructure policy.
The industry has given a qualified thumbs-up to Miliband’s proposal.
Balfour Beatty Construction Services CEO Nick Pollard told NCE: “I am a big fan of John’s report. It’s not about the political colour; we need more continuity from one parliament to the next.
“There is no reason why Labour’s independent commission couldn’t exist alongside the Coalition’s National Infrastructure Plan – they are not mutually exclusive.
“But what we also need is more speed; we have an energy crisis looming in this UK, but we’ve not moved quickly enough to deal with it. Major rail schemes like Thameslink and Crossrail have taken far too long to become reality. We need to be quicker as an industry and quicker as a nation.”
Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “Our industry has long argued that long-term visibility of workload is essential if we are to play our part in delivering world-class infrastructure in an efficient and timely manner.
“An independent body would be able to clearly analyse the strategic challenges facing the UK, and identify how infrastructure can play a part in resolving these concerns.”