New government 'must commit to infrastructure investment'

Whichever party wins the general election must commit to "vital" investment in the UK's infrastructure, civil engineers have urged.

Whichever party wins the general election must commit to "vital" investment in the UK's infrastructure, civil engineers have urged.

The Institution of Civil Engineers said maintaining investment in infrastructure projects will deliver long-term social, economic and environmental benefits.

The recession and public spending deficit had led to uncertainty about how the necessary capital could be raised, and which infrastructure projects were a priority at a time of scarce resources and growing demand, said the institution in a report.

It was vital that projects such as Crossrail, Thames Tideway Tunnels and the new nuclear energy programme should go ahead despite the strain on the public purse, it was argued.

Feasibility studies for proposals such as the Severn tidal project and high-speed rail links to Scotland must also be driven forward, said the institution.

The group called for an infrastructure investment bank to be set up to attract the private capital needed to fund essential infrastructure investment.

It has been estimated that the UK will need to spend around £400 billion on new and refurbished infrastructure by 2020 in order to address historic under-investment and kick-start the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The institution's director-general, Tom Foulkes, said: "There is a clear case for continued investment in our transport, energy, waste, flooding and water infrastructure, despite the restrictions the current financial situation places on government spending.

"This is not just for the benefit of industry and the economy, but for the benefit of society as a whole - our quality of life depends on infrastructure."

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