The independent Armitt Review of Infrastructure is launching its final report at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 5 September. This will set out recommendations to improve the UK’s long-term planning and delivery of major infrastructure for energy, transport and possibly telecommunications and housing.
Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner for CPRE says:
‘Increasingly decisions on major infrastructure are being justified on the somewhat tenuous basis of a “global infrastructure race”. This is not the right way to plan effectively. Putting infrastructure planning on a proper long-term footing is infinitely preferable than simply trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. Also, we should not forget the lessons of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, an unelected body that had to be disbanded shortly after it was set up. ’
CPRE is issuing two tests in advance of the report, one procedural and one substantive:
- Will the review’s proposals mean another head on collision between the infrastructure and localism agendas? We should learn from the new French system of infrastructure planning and make sure there is genuine public participation at a stage when all options are still open.
- Will the review’s proposals prioritise big kit infrastructure over genuinely sustainable development? The review needs to recognise the need for managing demand as well as supplying new infrastructure. Simply building new infrastructure is not going to tackle long-term problems such as climate change or congestion.
Ralph Smyth concluded: ‘We need better processes for delivering the infrastructure the country needs. But in a small, crowded and democratic country it is vital that major decisions are taken following meaningful public engagement, including proper consideration of alternatives. Any attempt to impose big schemes will result in a backlash, making it far harder to get the right decisions make. We hope that Sir John Armitt and his colleagues recognise this.’