Industry reaction to chancellor George Osbourne’s Autumn Statement was mixed, with a positive response to the increased commitment to infrastructure but widespread feeling that the promises must be followed by action.
ICE director general Nick Baveystock said: “The danger, as with the £5bn capital boost announced this time last year, is that this will fail to materialise and breed further scepticism.”
Consultant WSP head of infrastructure Duncan Symonds also expressed concern over whether the plans would materialise, saying that getting “shovel-ready” projects started would be the “measure of success”.
However ICE London director Miranda Housden said the proposed extra cash for infrastructure would benefit the capital. “ICE London welcomes this investment in London’s infrastructure and, especially when coupled with the investment announced by the mayor of London earlier this week, believes that we will see not just short term gains for London’s economy during the construction work but will see long term benefits for the capital,” she said.
The benefits for London were echoed by consultant Atkins UK chief executive officer David Tonkin. “The funding schemes announced to support the extension of the Northern line to Battersea Power Station and the accompanied redevelopment, major upgrades for four trunk roads and motorways, extra fast broadband in 12 smaller cities and the next phase of HS2 will provide a welcome boost for jobs and the economy. At the same time they will help provide the backbone for the country to meet its long-term needs,” he said.
However, WSP director Scott Parkhurst noted that a plan for decarbonising the gas generating market was “alarmingly absent”.
“Without this plan in place meeting carbon targets will become near impossible and the uncertainty will further erode industry confidence.” he said.