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03 Dec 2014
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK announced his Autumn Statement today. There are two particular areas I’d like to comment on – transport and flood defences.
Transport is the backbone of our economy and society. It’s vital our towns and cities are well connected, and the ongoing investment in building and enhancing the railways needs to continue. However, roads have an equally important role to play, and although a number of improvement programmes have been delivered in recent years the investment has not been on the same scale. The certainty this much-needed investment provides, combined with the imminent changes to how the Highways Agency operates, should allow a longer term, more strategic approach to how improvements are planned and delivered. For example, the starting point for key road schemes announced in the Autumn Statement is to improve connections to the south west and Norwich. With this outcome in mind, the individual road improvements which offer the greatest benefit and best value for money can be chosen.
And with regards flood defences, the forward investment in this much needed area (of flood defence and flood risk management) is welcome and we trust that any incoming Government will maintain this commitment. In addition to the damage to housing and infrastructure and the disruption to lives, the impact on local and national economic life can be significant. Flooding can affect people getting to work and the movement of goods around the country for businesses. It can reduce or ruin soil fertility for farmland. It is important that some of these indirect consequences are taken into account when assessing the impact of flooding, particularly in the context of a cost benefit investment model.
An at-a-glance summary of the Autumn Statement is available on the BBC website, here.
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