The prime minister says UK infrastructure is “falling behind”

The government is considering introducing more toll roads in the UK to fund an overhaul of the road network, the prime minister said today.

David Cameron used a speech at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) headquarters in London to set out the case for more private investment in UK infrastructure.

He has asked the Department for Transport and the Treasury to carry out a feasibility study into new ownership and financing models for the roads system, with a report expected by the autumn.

Cameron compared the move with the privatisation of the water industry by Margaret Thatcher.

He said that UK infrastructure is “falling behind” its competitors and the country should “build for the future with as much confidence and ambition as the Victorians once did”.

He added: “We need to look at innovative approaches to the funding of our national roads - to increase investment to reduce congestion.

“Road tolling is one option – but we are only considering this for new, not existing, capacity.

“For example, we’re looking at how improvements to the A14 could be part funded through tolling.”

ICE director general, Nick Baveystock, said: “It is encouraging to see further evidence of Government’s commitment to infrastructure forming a central plank of the plan for growth and some decisive steps to secure long term, targeted investment not only for important infrastructure projects, but for networks as a whole.

“Our national road network is a valuable and essential asset that relies on continued investment to function.

“Government is right to investigate more radical funding models and consider how infrastructure investment might be better managed.

“This will be extremely important in ensuring potential investors get a predictable rate of return and we welcome Government’s imagination and ambition in tackling this.”