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Adonis to make fresh plea for infrastructure action

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chairman Lord Adonis will today call on the government to confront “congestion, capacity and carbon” to stop UK infrastructure falling behind global rivals.

In a speech at Birmingham University to launch the UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment, the Labour peer will say the country cannot afford to “sit on our hands” in tackling infrastructure needs and must have a long-term plan. 

The speech will coincide with the release of the NIC’s Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for National Infrastructure report, setting out infrastructure requirements for transport, information networks, water and energy up to 2050. 

“Ministers must act now to tackle the three Cs of congestion, capacity and carbon if we are to have infrastructure fit for the future, supporting economic growth across the country,” Lord Adonis will say. 

He will single out Heathrow expansion as “perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all”, following comments made last month at the London Infrastructure Summit.  

The peer will add: “We have a proud history in this country of delivering world-class infrastructure – but for years funding has been squeezed, policy decisions have been erratic and the network is showing signs of age and strain.

“The endless delay to a parliamentary decision on Heathrow is a case in point – and perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all.”

Last month he branded the UK’s airport policy a “national disgrace” and claimed the likelihood of Heathrow expansion securing final approval next year was only 50:50. 

Reducing congestion will also form a major part of Lord Adonis’ address as he calls for more investment in cross-country and international transport. 

On capacity, he will call on the government to boost 4G coverage and broadband speeds to bring the UK level with countries such as the US and the Netherlands, and to ensure Britain has the power generating capacity required while still hitting carbon reduction targets.

He will also emphasise the need for infrastructure planning at a regional level, while the mayors of Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, London, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, and the West of England will be at the report’s launch. 

Lord Adonis has made a number of high-profile comments since he was named permanent chair of the National Infrastructure Commission in April.

In August he told CN he was “not worried in the slightest” about contractors’ low margins, arguing it was a sign the public sector was “getting a good deal at last”.

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