The highways and transport sectors associations have welcomed news that infrastructure and local roads spending will increase next year but have said local roads need continuous investment and that delivery is vital.
Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance said: “Our local roads played a vital role in keeping the country functioning this year, supporting the emergency services and facilitating the distribution of food and goods, and today’s funding announcements reflect that the Government recognises the need to invest in the local road network as we build back better.
“While these spending commitments are welcome in these challenging times, we are aware that the sums outlined will not be enough to plug the existing multi-billion pound backlog in road maintenance funding and so our ageing network will continue to decline.
“What’s needed going forward is an additional investment of £1.5 billion a year for 10 years, to improve the experience of all road users, support recovery and deliver a much-needed boost to the economy.”
Will Britain, President of the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) commented, “Members of LCRIG will be pleased to see that the Government is committed to maintaining and improving the local road network. Despite the challenges faced by local authorities up and down the country during these difficult times it is important that investment in infrastructure sits at the heart of recovery.
“With local roads making up 98% of the network and used in almost every journey the value of local roads should never be underestimated. Well-maintained local roads allow for faster and more reliable journeys, boosting local businesses and serving all road users.
“All council highway departments should welcome this news and work to ensure that they deliver what is needed. LCRIG will continue to play its part by facilitating collaboration and innovation across the sector.”
Meanwhile, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has cautiously welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements in the Spending Review but stressed that delivery is vital. The key announcements for MPA members included investment in roads, rail, and longer-term spending on bringing forward CCUS, nuclear and hydrogen all of which provide a pipeline of demand and support our industry’s transition to net zero. However, experience over recent years of ambitions not being met tempers our confidence in the plans announced today.
Improving delivery is vital, and the National Infrastructure Strategy sets out welcome reforms to help achieve this, with changes to environmental regulations and the planning system, said the organisation.
Responding to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the Mineral Products Association (MPA) said:
“Increased ambition from Government on new, better and improved infrastructure is always welcome, but it is the realisation of those ambitions, evidenced with actual delivery on the ground, that will be crucial and the true measure of success. We welcome the plans to improve delivery and will keep pressing Government to ensure they come to fruition.
“As the Government itself recognises, the country needs to build itself back to strengthen the recovery from the economic impact of Covid-19. Our industry is essential to this process and unfortunately, we have seen dithering and delay on the delivery of major projects and infrastructure for far too long.
“Government plans have to be credible and deliverable or they simply won’t be worth the paper they are written on; we will be scrutinising the details following today’s statement with keen interest.
“In our submission to the Treasury, ahead of today’s announcement, we called for a focus on delivery on infrastructure and we are glad to see that recognised in the National Infrastructure Strategy. We also set out some of the long-term decisions needed now to support the industry achieve net zero so progress on these is welcome.”
CIHT welcomed the Review with Sue Percy, Chief Executive saying: “It was noticeable in the Chancellor’s address just how important investment in transport was to the Settlement – to support economic growth but also to support the Government’s levelling up agenda. Transport infrastructure can deliver many benefits, not just economic, but social, environmental and health benefits also.
“CIHT is in the prime position to work with the Department for Transport in its role in building our way to recovery but this must include the wide range of transport modes and not at the expense of delivering on the net zero carbon challenge. Although no specific mention was made of road pricing, CIHT sees benefit in consideration of a form of pricing system to address not just falling fuel duty revenues but as a measure to achieve carbon reduction.”