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London businesses set up infrastructure commission to make case for investment

Business lobby group London First has established an expert Infrastructure Commission to address issues regarding London’s infrastructure.

The commission, to be formally launched tomorrow, will be looking at the challenges which increased population and workforce pose along with ageing infrastructure and the demands of new technology, as well as seeking solutions to planning, delivery and funding.

The commission’s expert panel will take evidence during the spring then offer a report to the new government in the autumn.

The commission will be chaired by Martin Stanley, head of Macquarie Capital Funds Europe and also includes former Arup chairman Terry Hill, Bovis Lend Lease chief executive Nick Pollard, KPMG Global Infrastructure Projects chairman Timothy Stone, London First chairman Sir Adrian Montague, London School of Economics director professor Tony Travers and Indepen MD Ann Bishop.

“London is the world’s leading city. But it needs the right underpinnings to remain at the top of this competitive league,” said Stanley. “World class infrastructure is required in all forms of transport, telecommunications and energy as well as water and waste management. 

“These all support a city’s economic competitiveness and its attractiveness for residents and visitors. Few would argue with this, but the short term interest of the customer and the long term need for investment are difficult to reconcile.

“Meeting London’s long term infrastructure requirements needs a strategic and co-ordinated approach that considers all of the factors that currently impact life in this great city.

“I have agreed to chair London First’s Infrastructure Commission in order to ascertain London’s long term infrastructure needs and to identify means by which they might be met. We have brought together an impressive group of people as commissioners, and I hope we will attract submissions from an even wider range of experts, from infrastructure customers, providers, regulators and academics,” he said.

Stanley stressed that the commission was not attempting to influence policy ahead of the General Election.

“This is not a quick fix issue,” he said. “We are not playing politics with infrastructure, since the timescales involved vastly exceed those of the political cycle.

“Indeed, we aim to report late in 2010, after the General Election. Our aim is to inform the Government as it shapes policies which will set the framework and incentives for infrastructure investment. The size of the task should not be trivialised - this is complex, politically and economically. The establishment of the Commission is an acknowledgement of this complexity, and as a group, the Commission is determined to assemble and critique the best ideas for tackling the barriers to London’s development as a world leading city.”

The commission will take written and oral evidence from interested parties and will form policy recommendations on how London’s infrastructure needs are planned, funded and delivered, principally for regulators, local and national government for the short, medium and longer terms.

By responding to the commission’s “call for evidence” businesses and stakeholders can make their views known.

London First belives that if London is to remain a leading world city, continued investment in its infrastructure is essential. It argues that much of London’s infrastructure is ageing, heavily crowded and contains little resilience.

London’s water is transported through a largely Victorian infrastructure system while the energy supply infrastructure has remained largely unchanged for thirty years. While there are important projects that are planned or have been started, such as Crossrail and the London Tideway Tunnels more investment is needed, it argues.

The draft London Plan states that the demands on London’s infrastructure are expected to materially increase over the coming decades, as the city is forecast to grow with a projected population increase of over 1.3 million by 2031 which will create over 790,000 new households and 750,000 new jobs.

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