Chancellor George Osborne announced today that his eighth budget offered "long-term solutions to long-term problems", with announcements which he claimed were "pro-infrastructure and pro-devolution" and which promised to make Britain "fit for the future".
The Chancellor also confirmed his support of the National Infrastructure Commission's "impressive" recent reports on Crossrail 2, smart power and greater transport connectivity in the north. In particular, he confirmed that Crossrail 2 will be commissioned and also gave the green light to HS3.
He announced that he will adopt all the recommendations on smart energy, including the recommendations set out in ICE's flagship 'Energy Storage: Realising the Potential' Report which suggested reducing regulatory barriers to greater deployment of electricity storage.
The Chancellor set out areas for the Commission to carry out further work and to provide targeted recommendations to the Government, including helping the UK become a leader in 5G infrastructure and to maximise the potential of the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor, as a single, knowledge intensive cluster.
The spending plans announced today by the Chancellor demonstrate ICE's influential position on infrastructure thinking, having provided written evidence from industry experts to the Commission.
ICE will this autumn will launch a National Needs Assessment, a project which the Institution has facilitated to provide the Commission with a cross-sector assessment of the UK's national economic infrastructure – energy, transport, communications, water, waste and flooding needs to 2050 and identify options for how they can be met.
Nick Baveystock, ICE Director General welcomed the Chancellor's announcements and urged the Government to act swiftly to put an integrated plan in place:
"The confirmed financial backing for vital transport projects in the North is excellent news. The next step should be to underpin this commitment with an integrated plan embracing a mix of ambitious, transformational projects alongside smaller scale investments. If the plan can be developed swiftly, it will maintain confidence in the vision and enable the benefits to be felt sooner. Similarly, the funds allocated to develop the case for Crossrail 2 are welcome, but this should move forward at a good pace so the hybrid Bill can be submitted in Parliament."
But he also urged Government not to forget the upkeep of our existing infrastructure:
"While the headlines are focussed on important large projects, the upkeep of our existing infrastructure – from flood defences to local roads – should not be forgotten. We await details on any local authority cuts and the impact on maintenance budgets, and will continue to encourage a shift from reactive patch-up work towards a 'whole life' approach to infrastructure investment."