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'Stop-start' threat to infrastructure schemes

The UK's 'stop-start' approach to planning essential infrastructure projects could cost £8 billion and put projects in jeopardy by 2015, a report warned today.

The State of the Nation report published by the Institution of Civil Engineers said projects which were not planned properly discouraged investment from private firms and failed to deliver best value to taxpayers.

The rate of inflation in construction has been running above the level for the rest of the economy, threatening future investment in building schemes, the report said.

Keith Miller, spokesman for the institute, said: "The UK civil engineering industry is facing a capacity and skills crisis due to a boom in infrastructure investment. If the costs of delivering vital water, energy, waste and transport infrastructure rise, essential
projects could be scrapped, leaving the public at a loss.

"The UK's stop-start and fractured approach to infrastructure planning erodes the industry's confidence to invest in developing capacity, innovation and civil engineering skills. This feeds into higher construction inflation, and misses an opportunity to get best value at a time of increasing global demand for resources."

The report called for an independent commission to coordinate delivery of major infrastructure projects.