A package of new measures announced by ministers including Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander increases infrastructure investment plans by £66Bn and new funding sources have been found with insurance company investors pledging £25Bn to back the proposals over the next five years.
Today’s announcements include Treasury guarantees for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, Anglesey; a £1Bn guarantee for the London Underground Northern Line extension to Battersea; and a £50M redevelopment of Gatwick railway station.
Plans for charging tolls on the widening of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon have been dropped and government will now fund the £1.5Bn scheme directly.
Levels of subsidy for wind and solar energy projects were to be announced, and the subsidy for onshore wind cut relative to offshore. Renewed efforts are to be made to attract private investment into the government’s Green Investment Bank to boost lending to renewables companies.
The government has been criticised by construction industry and business groups like the Confederation of British Industry for the slow progress of delivery of its 40 ‘priority’ infrastructure scheme. Government will argue today that out of 646 projects in the National Infrastructure Plan 291 are under construction and those already built include 35 transport projects, flood defence and coastal erosion schemes and railway station upgrades.
A new strategic plan including a priority list of projects for improving flood defences is to be announced in 2014. Sales of government assets, including a 40% stake in Eurostar, are to be doubled to £20Bn between 2014 and 2020 to help fund the investments.