We attended a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum Keynote Seminar on "Priorities for UK Infrastructure and the delivery of major projects..." recently. Amongst others, Alan Brown, MP, Paul Sweeney, MP, and the Mayor of West England, Tim Bowles, were speaking.
Key take away points included:
- Although PFI and PF2 may be dead, PPP is not - there will always be a role for private finance if the Government cannot deliver its infrastructure renewal programme by itself.
- The models that have been rolled out in Northern Ireland and Scotland were lauded, especially in Northern Ireland with its pipeline of projects intended to build confidence in deal flow.
- The lack of pipeline in England continued to be a concern, but the Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, Philip Graham, emphasised that there was in fact a pipeline of projects set out in the recently published National Infrastructure Assessment. Broadband has the highest priority. Low carbon infrastructure also has a high priority, as well as revolutionising road transport through the wide-scale introduction of electric and autonomous vehicles. However in response to a question from the audience, Mr Graham said he was not aware of plans to renew the National Grid itself.
Since the seminar, the "National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline 2018" has been published (on 26 November), which sets out a commitment of in excess of £600 billion over the next 10 years towards transport, energy, utilities, digital infrastructure, science and research, flood and coastal erosion projects, as well as schools and hospitals. The numbers include the new East West Rail Project, Hornsea Project One (the largest offshore wind project in the World) and the £28 billion national roads fund.