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Adonis launches infrastructure priorities

Lord Adonis

Heathrow airport expansion delays are “perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all”, National Infrastructure Commission chairman Lord Adonis will say today.

He will urge the government to create a long-term plan to stop the UK’s economic competitiveness falling behind that of other countries as he launches the National Infrastructure Commission’s first national assessment in Birmingham this afternoon. Adonis will warn that the current state of the UK’s infrastructure could hold the country back.

Congestion, capacity and carbon must be addressed or the UK will face gridlock on the roads, railways and in the skies. People will also endure slow mobile and broadband connectivity, and worsening air quality, Adonis will say.

“We have a proud history in this country of delivering world-class infrastructure – but for years funding has been squeezed, policy decisions have been erratic and the network is showing signs of age and strain,” Adonis will say. “The endless delay to a Parliamentary decision on Heathrow is a case in point – and perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all.

“If we are to make the most of our economic potential and compete globally, we need the ‘Heathrow is full’ sign to come down.

“But we also risk falling behind internationally if we don’t improve our mobile and broadband connections, and residents of our great cities will suffer unless we do something to improve air quality.”

He will tell the launch at Birmingham City University that the UK lags behind countries such as the United States, the Netherlands and Japan for 4G and broadband speeds, and urgent action must be taken to increase capacity. He will also say new infrastructure must be built to support new homes and protect against extreme weather.

The government must invest in projects including High Speed 3 – also known as Northern Powerhouse Rail – and Crossrail 2. It must also spend on new and improved public transport and cycling facilities in cities and tackle carbon emissions by preparing for electric vehicles, remove emissions from heating and waste, and take advantage of falling costs of renewables, he will say.

More than 60% of the UK’s power stations will have to be replaced to meet carbon reduction targets, and in London overcrowding on peak time trains increased by 45% between 2011 and 2016. Speeds on inner-city roads fell by up to 12% between 2012 and 2015.

Adonis will add: “We cannot afford to sit on our hands – ministers must act now to tackle the three Cs of congestion, capacity and carbon if we are to have infrastructure fit for the future, supporting economic growth across the country.

“But this doesn’t just rest with Whitehall and Westminster, and I’m pleased that the country’s mayors are also stepping up to plan to meet the infrastructure needs of their communities.”

Also at the launch will be five of the UKs seven metro mayors representing the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, London, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the West of England.

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