Belfast Telegraph

Business lobby calls for infrastructure upgrades

By Peter Woodman

Improvements to transport, energy and IT communications could boost the UK economy by £10bn a year, a report by business leaders have said.

The Government should invest in a long-term infrastructure plan for the UK or face putting its economic future at risk, said the report from the Business Infrastructure Commission (BIC).

Transport, energy and information communication technology improvements could increase the GDP (gross domestic product) by an additional 0.7% a year, the commission said.

The report urged the Government to focus on five pieces of infrastructure.

They included a detailed long-term infrastructure strategy, procurement reform and improvements to the planning system for major projects.

The BIC said these had to go hand-in-hand with attracting private finance, and ensuring the UK had the right skills to deliver national and regional infrastructure projects.

BIC chairman Professor David Begg said: "The UK has one of the most heavily used infrastructure networks in the developed world. This is why it is critical to encourage further investment so that UK infrastructure is fit for the future.

"By infrastructure, we mean transport, energy supply and digital communications networks - the backbone of business and our economic health."

He went on: "Increased levels of investment from both Government and critically from the private sector must also be matched by a long-term infrastructure strategy.

"Our ability to move goods and services around the country, and doing business online, is crucial to our economic vitality, particularly in stimulating regional economies.

Responding to the report, Institution of Civil Engineers director general Tom Foulkes said: "The Government must now focus on attracting inward investment and translating its plans into actions that pave the way for infrastructure to become the economic driver it promises."