Reaction to Queen's Speech
Legislation to enable the construction of HS2, and a new water bill were among the construction-related highlights of the Queen’s Speech
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Her Majesty said: ‘My government will continue to invest in infrastructure to deliver jobs and growth for the economy.
‘Legislation will be introduced to enable the building of the High Speed Two railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain’s cities. My government will continue with legislation to update energy infrastructure and to improve the water industry.’
High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill
This Bill would authorise expenditure to build a High Speed Rail network from London to Birmingham and Manchester to Leeds. Expenditure covers the construction design, ecological surveys and other preparatory work for the stages listed above, as well as for future phases. The Government would also be required to report on expenditure.
The Bill paves the way for the Hybrid Bill to be brought forward at the end of the year. It would apply to England, Scotland and Wales.
HS2 Hybrid Bill
The Bill provides the Government with the legal powers to acquire, or temporarily take possession of, the land needed to construct and operate the High Speed 2 railway. Upon becoming an Act, the Bill would also provide deemed planning permission to the Government to deliver the scheme.
Planning details would still need to be examined on a site-by-site basis with the local planning authority. Most provisions would apply to England, but some measures would cover Scotland and Wales.
The Bill, awaiting its Report stage in the Commons, represents sweeping changes to the energy market, the bringing forward of new investment and the providing of secure, low carbon generation for the coming decades.
The Bill aims to stimulate £110 billion in new investment, which would be structured via Contracts for Difference and Investment Contracts.
Further, the Bill would establish a Capacity Market to ensure the security of electricity supply. The legislation would also include provisions to simplify energy tariffs and to regulate the nuclear power sector.
CECA director of external affairs, Alasdair Reisner said: ‘Once again, we have seen a welcome focus on infrastructure from the government. However, it is easier to talk about infrastructure than to build it. We need to see words in Westminster translated into projects on the ground, if the sector is to spark growth in the economy.
‘CECA looks forward to working with government to ensure the passage of these bills begin to address Britain’s infrastructure deficit, and return the economy to robust growth without delay.’
CBI director-general, John Cridland said: ‘This is the crucial next step for the project. We cannot sit on our hands when the West Coast Main Line is set to reach full capacity by the 2020s, squeezing out passengers and freight.
‘Extending HS2 north of Birmingham is a big prize. It will boost the long-term economic potential of some of our biggest cities, driving growth and creating jobs across the country. Ministers must now work hard to secure real consensus on the route to avoid the project being hit by years of delays.
‘HS2 cannot be built in isolation. We need sustained, additional capital investment in existing road and rail networks now to meet increased demand.’
RICS UK director of external affairs, Stephen Thornton said: “The Government’s focus on the delivery of HS2 in the Queen’s Speech is crucial to creating jobs and trade links around the country but unfortunately not until a distant point in the future. We need investment in smaller transport projects and improving our existing networks now otherwise there will be little left of our Midland and Northern cities by the time HS2 is built. It is extremely disappointing that there was nothing in the Queen’s Speech that will begin improving our country’s transport networks today.
Institution of Civil Engineers director general Nick Baveystock, said: ‘HS2 presents an opportunity to bring about a real step change in rail capacity and help regenerate and boost the economies of our city-regions. It is important however that these benefits are realised across the UK as a whole at the very earliest opportunity.
‘A supplementary Paving Bill, granting spending powers to fast-track work on both phases, should prove a catalyst in achieving this – but this remains an ambitious project and the political and financial commitment to its delivery must continue.’
CBI director-general, John Cridland: ‘The Energy Bill’s journey has dragged on long enough - it is crucial for investors that it’s put on the statute books as soon as possible.
‘There is a lot of concern about the lights going out in the next few years – without this investment there is a danger they will go off and not come back on.
‘The UK needs £110 billion of private sector investment over the next decade to create long-term secure, low-carbon and affordable electricity supplies – generating growth and underpinning tens of thousands of jobs.’of 66,800 construction workers and 36,800 qualified engineers by 2050. Further tightening of movement in and out of the country could suffocate the industry completely.
“The engineering and construction sectors are vital for the overall health of the UK economy. Infrastructure projects and developments not only provide employment, they create wealth opportunities for the suppliers and the end user. Now is not the time to be putting the shackles on the countries growth prospects.”