Speech: Danny Alexander on the National Infrastructure Plan 2013


The Chief Secretary to the Treasury gives an update on progress so far and explains the most forward-looking infrastructure pipeline to date


Published on 04 December 2013

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by The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP

(WireNews+Co)

London, England

The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP
The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP

Introduction

[Well] I hope that Paul’s [Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury] comments…

And those completed projects he ran us through…

Show that our infrastructure plan is making a difference in every corner of Britain…

Underground, overground…

On shore, off shore…

Wired, wireless…

Tarmac, train track…

You name it. We’re building it. Right now.

And the renewal of our infrastructure is renewing the very foundations of our economy.

I’m enormously grateful to Paul, for the excellent job he’s done – during his first year in office – in taking that work forward.

His influence has been felt not just down the corridor at the Treasury…

But across the rest of Whitehall and beyond.

But while we celebrate delivering today…

We should also remember that these – the National Infrastructure Plan and the Investment Pipeline – are live documents.

And for me – they serve three main purposes.

First – as we’ve heard – they act as a benchmark against which we can measure our progress.

Second – their existence helps to embed the idea of infrastructure as a vital part of our national life.

And third. They give long term clarity and certainty to investors and the public.

In developing the National Infrastructure Plan – as Paul said – we’ve worked in close collaboration with industry and finance…

To make sure we meet your needs, and remove any obstacles to delivering the programme.

You told us you wanted a clearer picture of future work.

So we created the pipeline.

You asked us to have a greater sense of priority…

So we designated the top 40 projects.

And you asked us to make it easier to get those priority projects through the system.

So we’ve listened, and we’ve delivered all the reforms to planning and judicial review that Paul has just set out.

The pipeline is the most comprehensive overview of planned and potential infrastructure investment ever produced.

It also acts as a prospectus for investors, identifying key UK private and public sector infrastructure requirements for decades to come.

Add the certainty that provides, to the economic stability the government is overseeing…

And you can see why Britain is now ranked number one in the Nabarro Infrastructure Index for attracting investment…

Which takes into account factors like credit and taxation and innovation.

I’m delighted that investors are realising this, and taking advantage of the opportunities it offers.

Today, a group of insurers…

Aviva, Friends Life, Legal & General, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life….

Have made a commitment to work with government and regulators…

And invest £25 billion in UK infrastructure over the next five years.

This was made possible because the government negotiated a successful outcome on Solvency II…

Which has put insurers in a strong position…

To make longer term investments.

I’m delighted that those companies have made that commitment…

It is a fantastic contribution to Britain’s economic future by some of Britain’s most impressive companies.

It represents a massive vote of confidence in the UK economy…

And it will play a key role in financing key projects.

It also serves as real evidence that if the government demonstrates a long term vision…

It will help us to secure long term funding…

Which will lead – in turn – to sustainable, strong, long term growth for our economy.

Today’s plan also sets out our intention to increase publically owned corporate asset sales from £10 billion to £20 billion by 2020…

Including exploring the sale of Eurostar.

While no final decision has been made, government shouldn’t own assets it doesn’t need…

And we should look at where these proceeds can be reinvested, including in Britain’s infrastructure.

So this document before you, builds on the long term commitment of taxpayers’ money that I set out in the Commons this June.

And it contains a series of new measures that will create opportunities for new jobs and for new growth across the UK.

Transport

Most of the value of the pipeline lies in our energy and transport sectors.

[And] Transport is an area where a little investment from government…

Can go a long way towards bringing investment from elsewhere.

Take Kings Cross [which Paul mentioned earlier.]

We committed £500 million of public investment into its redevelopment…

Which attracted – in turn – over £2 billion from the private sector, and led to the complete regeneration of that part of London.

Between April and September this year we invested £15 million every day towards improving our rail network…

And we hope our investment will unlock private investment at some of those stations…

Like Manchester, Birmingham and Reading…

That are seeing the benefits of that money.

But we also have to keep looking at other stations where further investment could unleash growth.

Howard Davies – whose interim report is due to be published later this month…

Recently wrote to Government pointing out the importance of improving surface access to airports.

And we agree.

The current station at Gatwick hardly provides the best first impression of Britain.

And it sits on a key transport route, linking London to some of our great coastal towns.

So we’ve decided – subject to contributions from the airport itself – to provide £50 million to the cost of building a new rail station at Gatwick…

And to commission studies exploring rail and road improvements at both Heathrow and Stansted…

As well as the Brighton line.

This is good for those airports…

And the communities that surround them.

On our roads too – as we’ve seen – rapid progress is being made.

But across the country, there are still too many pinch points where it isn’t just traffic that’s being slowed down.

It’s growth too.

87 schemes have already been funded through our local pinch point fund…

But more work – and on a bigger scale – needs to be done.

At the A50 for example, where residents and businesses in the area face delays and congestion every day.

So today I’m adding it to our priority roads programme…

So we can work with Staffordshire Council, the LEP, and the Highways Agency to find a solution.

We’re also making progress on the other routes where we identified blockages in June.

We’ve started feasibility projects into a number of areas, including:

  • the A1 from Newcastle to Scotland
  • the A303
  • the A27
  • and the Trans-Pennines routes

And we’ll be publishing our plans for all those routes by this time next year.

As we develop those plans, we’ll do our best to keep the public as involved as possible…

Just as we did with our proposals for the A14, where we set out a consultation exploring the idea of a tolled section of road.

The A14 is a crucial link to the Haven ports – which are predicting a three-fold increase in throughput by 2030…

And improving the road could also support 10 000 new homes…

And a 22% increase in local jobs…

So we’ve listened to the consultation responses, and we’ve come to the decision that…

When this road goes ahead in three years time…

There will be no toll.

This will not lead to any delay in delivery…

And the cost will be covered by government.

But, as well as the economic benefits that our transport network brings…

We should remember that infrastructure can also add to the cultural life of our country, and our civic pride.

That’s why the government will be providing £30 million to help make the dream of a Garden Bridge over the Thames a reality.

Providing this investment will – I’m certain – help the Bridge’s Trust to secure private donations for the scheme…

And move us closer to the target of a 2017 opening.

And as well as building the bridges and the railways and the roads for the future…

I want us to build the cars of the future too.

This summer government committed £500 million of funds to support ULEVS.

Details of which will be set out soon…

And today’s National Infrastructure Plan puts £5 million towards promoting the use of ULEVs for all Government car fleets.

But there are other opportunities for Great Britain too.

[Now] At present, the main advances in driverless car technology are happening in California.

Apparently they’re making progress, but they’ve found that the cars only really work in sunny weather.

So the UK has something to offer here!

And the National Infrastructure Plan contains plans to put our country at the forefront of driverless car technology.

Digital

If we want to be world leaders in new technology though…

We’ll need to have the right digital networks in place to support those industries of the future.

Paul laid out our progress on making 95% of households superfast.

But we believe that everyone should have access to the opportunities the internet offers.

Especially with more and more of our lives and our jobs – perhaps even our democracy? – moving online

That’s why we’ve decided to open – as part of this update – a new £10 million competitive fund…

Which will market-test the kind of bold and inventive solutions that could deliver broadband to the most difficult to reach parts of the UK.

No area – no matter how remote – should be left behind.

Energy, the need for certainty, strike prices…..

Finally, the need for investment in our energy sector is enormous.

The energy measures we announced at the weekend will ease the burden of gas and electricity bills on hard pressed families over the next couple of years…

Without in any way undermining the support for investment in electricity generation.

But those lower bills will only be sustainable if we deliver that investment in newer and cleaner sources of electricity…

And this document updates you on our progress.

Back in June, I announced the draft prices the government will guarantee for those investing in renewable energy.

And this Plan updates and confirms the final prices we’ll pay.

It shows that the price we’re willing to pay for onshore wind and large scale solar farms has come down.

So we can drive every penny of efficiency…

And get consumers the best possible deal.

It shows that we’ve maintained the amount we’ll pay for converting coal stations to biomass.

And it also shows that we’ll increase what we pay for offshore wind in 2018-19.

We believe that this plan will mean delivering 10GW of offshore wind by 2020 is achievable – perhaps more if the prices come down.

This protects our commitment to green energy….

While ensuring we get the best value for money for consumers, and ensure the huge potential of offshore wind is fulfilled.

But it’s not just wind, wave and tidal power that are seeing the benefits of our policies.

Just twenty minutes ago…

In this very building…

I signed an agreement with Hitachi and Horizon…

Which commits us in principle…

To offering a guarantee for their Nuclear Power Station at Anglesey.

There is work to be done…

And putting the financing plan together will be a commitment from both sides.

But the agreement today shows that…

Just as we did with Hinkley…

This Government is prepared to give certainty to investors…

To help them make the financial decisions that are critical for our nation’s infrastructure.

The power station this agreement will support is set to create around 1,000 permanent jobs once complete…

With a peak workforce of over 5 000 during construction.

And – along with the other Guarantees agreed in principle…

It shows that the government is doing all it can:

  • to secure a stable, certain environment for energy investment…

  • to create jobs…

  • and to ensure the UK plays its full part in tackling climate change.

Conclusion

As I see it, this plan is a blueprint for Britain…

From which we will literally build the foundations of our future prosperity.

I want to see everybody…

Be they politicians or investors…

Project managers or engineers…

Getting behind it.

And helping to deliver it.

It’s a plan that demonstrates a long term vision, for our energy and our transport and our digital networks…

It’s a plan that is helping to secure long term investment – as we’ve seen from the insurance sector…

And ultimately, it’s a plan that will lead to sustainable, strong long term growth.

And help us to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, where everyone can get on in life.

Thanks for listening.

 


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Posted 2013-12-04 13:19:00