Report finds frequent changes in policy and lack of finance putting industry off investing in infrastructure

A new report into the UK’s infrastructure has cited frequent changes in government policy and lack of sufficient finance as key threats to the UK’s ability to build reliable infrastructure over the next decade.

Research by the department for innovation, business and skills into the infrastructure supply chain found that frequent changes in government policy - which includes planning policy - was putting industry off making the investment needed to secure the UK’s future infrastructure needs.

The report also highlighted that innovative technological solutions are not being implemented because finance to cover the costs is restricted - stating the government’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) as an essential element that was not yet in place.

The government yesterday appointed Lord Stern to the £3bn GIB Advisory group in a move to ensure that the new bank can start lending from next April.

The influential author of the Stern review into the economics of climate change is the most high-profile appointment to the board, which also includes John Burnham former managing director and global head of Citigroup, Simon Brooks, UK vice president of the European Investment Bank and Bob Wigley, chairman of Yell Group.

The infrastructure report concluded that ‘an innovation may be technically excellent but if lenders will only finance projects using established technology, then it will not be deployed.’

Highlighting the frequent changes to government policy the report noted that ‘the policy landscape by the end of the study was markedly different from the position at the start.’

Of major concern to the UK is the future energy supply, with timing issues regarding nuclear power station construction and commission mentioned as an area of major concern.

The fact that marine energy is an immature technology and the lack of production capacity for high-voltage subsea cables was also an area that the GIB should be able to address when it is operational next year.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), which represents over 300 contractors in the UK welcomed the report, stated that it signifies recognition by the government of the key importance of developing infrastructure for economic growth in the UK.

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Reisner commented: “The government has recognised that the UK faces a significant demand for infrastructure improvements in the years to come.

“It also realises that there are reasons why the UK has failed to keep pace with demand for new infrastructure in the past. This report seeks to identify and knock down these barriers.

“It is now vital that we see a coordinated response from government and industry to overcome these barriers. The alternative, letting the UK slip further down global league tables for infrastructure, is clearly unacceptable.”