Big infrastructure has been under scrutiny recently. In September, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) was cut from the Planning Bill; NIC Commissioner Sir John Armitt has said that the government does not believe the NIC requires a statutory footing, but critics have questioned the Bill’s revision.
Given that the commission was set up to encourage long-term strategic decision-making and build effective and efficient infrastructure, its axe from the Planning Bill could send the wrong signals to the infrastructure sector following the UK’s European referendum.
But despite the government shying away from fully supporting infrastructure in law, practical positive steps forward have also been made.
After August’s hiatus, the government decided to move ahead with plans for the new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C, which is expected to provide 25,000 temporary construction jobs and, once finished, a further 900 permanent positions.
And with a decision on Heathrow’s third runway expected before the year’s end, moving forward with more bold decisions and strong commitments – whether Gatwick or Heathrow – will not only reassure investors, but help the UK avoid further negative economic consequences created by the EU referendum result.
By pushing ahead with major infrastructure projects and continuing to work, under the right terms, with overseas investors who have previously shown confidence in the UK, Theresa May’s government can send a strong message that Britain can still hold a key position in the global economy and is very much open for business.