Keeping infrastructure on the agenda for 2018January 11, 2018
David Leam, Executive Director, London First
2018 got off to a bumpy start for infrastructure with the resignation of Lord Adonis as chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission. With Adonis taking on an increasingly political role his departure was perhaps inevitable, but represented an unwelcome step backwards for a body still lacking the independent statutory footing long sought by business, and originally promised by government. The subsequent announcement of Sir John Armitt as interim chairman will undoubtedly help steady the ship.
Against such uncertainty, the eventual confirmation that Chris Grayling would continue in post as Transport Secretary was welcome. While the Transport Secretary has had his detractors, further chopping and changing would have risked reopening or delaying vital decisions on airport capacity and key schemes such as Crossrail 2 (which Chris Grayling has personally backed). Continuity helps ensure 2018 could now be a year of real progress for London’s infrastructure.
The long-awaited parliamentary vote on the government’s Airports National Policy Statement to enable a third runway at Heathrow is now pencilled in for June/July. With continued strong support from government and from the UK’s nations and regions a parliamentary majority in favour of expansion remains well within reach – though some vocal opposition is inevitable. Building on the success of our Let Britain Fly campaign, London First will again be active in reminding decision makers of the importance business attaches to better international air links to support future economic growth. This includes making progress on the government’s wider aviation strategy, to enable growth across south-east airports.
With Crossrail and Thameslink coming to a conclusion, 2018 is also a key year for Crossrail 2. Last year’s Budget reiterated the government’s in-principle support for the scheme, while highlighting the need for further work on funding and financing. This is a priority area for London First as we seek to bolster the case for Crossrail 2 ahead of a potential decision point later this year. In parallel we are continuing to build our links with business groups in other major English cities to emphasise the need for complementary investment north and south.
Planning is also now underway for our 2018 London Infrastructure Summit, which will focus on London’s future infrastructure pipeline. This will take place on Wednesday 12 September so do hold the date.
As ever, we welcome member support in pushing through key priorities for London, do contact Dleam@londonfirst.co.uk on any areas of interest.