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19 Mar 2015
In the final budget before the general election the Chancellor ensured infrastructure investment and the ongoing growth of the UK economy continued hand-in-hand.
We don’t have to look very far to our international neighbours to see that the UK can’t compete effectively on the world stage if London and the South East continue to dominate our economic output. We have to make better use of our other cities and regions which is why plans for a Northern Powerhouse is so vital. Infrastructure is the key to unlocking this potential – the jobs, the skills, the growth and the private investment – but it is not the only thing. The cities will need to think much more as a collective rather than individuals. They will need to plan the development that goes around the transport – the housing, the businesses, the recreation – to makes sure the investment is maximised. It will not be an easy job, but with the political will, investment and technical skills and knowledge to make it happen we have a great opportunity ahead.
Energy is fundamental to our daily lives and the government’s decision to enter formal discussions on tidal lagoons could be a game changer for the UK. Wave power is a natural resource we have in abundance and unlike the sun and wind, the tide is predictable and consistent. Therefore, not only can tidal lagoons provide us with a green, reliable energy supply, they can create jobs and act as catalysts for regeneration. Importantly, they also offer us an opportunity to showcase and export British innovation and engineering at its best and this makes it even more important to get it right.
As well as traditional infrastructure, digital technology undoubtedly represents the direction of travel. Not only do we have the technical challenges of developing and integrating the new technology, but we have to persuade people of the case for changing the way they have done things for many years. The additional funding announced for R&D on driverless cars and the internet of things is a good starting point, but it is important we also invest in people to ensure they can maximise the benefits of the information revolution.
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