Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NIC chair demands answers over Stonehenge tunnel funding

3125353 stonehenge

National Infrastructure Commission chair (NIC) Sir John Armitt has urged the government to clarify how the proposed A303 Stonehenge tunnel project will be paid for.

Following chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget announcement that private finance initiative (PFI) and PF2 contracts will be abolished, Armitt has expressed concern over the Stonehenge tunnel and Lower Thames Crossing projects – both of which were due to be financed under such schemes.

Highways England has stressed that neither scheme rest solely on the PFI funding model.

However, Armitt has urged the government to clarify its position on “opportunities for private financing, which would free up public funds for other schemes”.

PFI and PF2 contracts came under fire from public spending watchdog the National Audit Office in January.

It claimed that government payments to privately funded infrastructure contractors will continue well into the 2040s, and that future payments will total £199bn, or an average of £7.7bn a year over the next 25 years – even if there are no future deals.

Earlier this week, lawyers who draw up PFI agreements told New Civil Engineer that the financing model is likely to live on, albeit under a new guise.

While welcoming the extra investment in road infrastructure, Armitt added that the “real test” will be during next year’s spending review.

He said: “Today’s Budget includes a number of welcome measures for infrastructure – but the real test will be next year’s Spending Review and, crucially, the National Infrastructure Strategy that the chancellor has promised. 

“This strategy should bring together the roads funding from this Budget with longer-term funding for cities and projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2. And it should include access to full fibre broadband and greater use of renewable sources for our energy.

“These measures and more formed our National Infrastructure Assessment – the first of its kind in the UK. Now that the Budget has been announced, I would urge Philip Hammond to use his Spending Review and the planned Strategy to implement our recommendations in full.”  

Detailed plans for Stonehenge tunnel were released earlier this week as part of the planning application. 

Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.