Report questions Ferrovial’s commitment to proposed expansion of UK airports

The Institution of Civil engineers (ICE) is calling on the government to address fears that the planned multibillion pound expansion of UK airports will be jeopardised by Spanish contractor Ferrovial’s takeover of BAA.

In its State of the Nation report 2006, an annual study into Britain’s infrastructure, the ICE claims that Ferrovial is reassessing proposals for expansion at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

The report says: “Changed ownership of BAA raises questions about the continued commitment to the airport infrastructure plans and, in particular, the timescales in the [aviation] white paper.”

A BAA spokesperson said: “There is a review, but that is good housekeeping. Ferrovial has stated it is fully committed to our capital expenditure over the next nine years.”

The body wants the government and the Civil Aviation Authority to guarantee that the takeover will not affect the projects.

The report also reveals several alleged faults in the government’s infrastructure strategy, including:

  • Discrepancies between the housing growth predictions made by water companies and those in the former ODPM’s Sustainable Communities Plan
  • A £1bn underinvestment in flood protection systems
  • An under-resourced nuclear industry
  • Delays with offshore windfarm projects that will stymie the government’s target of generating 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010.
The report says: “Experience from other countries indicates the difficulty of switching to more sustainable sources without total commitment from every level of government.”

• Safety concerns hit the UK’s civil nuclear programme this week. British Energy admitted that it will have to close two of its reactors owing to defects.