ICE responded to the announcements in Alistair Darling’s budget on Wednesday welcoming many of the measures but with a number of caveats and additional calls. The ICE statement commented:
“There is much to be welcomed in this budget. The commitment to maintaining capital investment to 2012 will hopefully reduce the danger of a double dip recession occurring in the engineering/construction industry.
“Long-term, the principle of putting green jobs at the centre of a new low carbon economy is a sound one. Therefore, the extra money for offshore wind and other renewable projects, incentives for CHP and carbon capture technologies, and the introduction of carbon budgets is to be welcomed.
“However we need to ensure that the UK has the infrastructure to enable us to properly exploit these emerging sectors. So, the real question left unanswered in today’s budget is how we are to fund essential infrastructure projects over the long term?
“Though expensive, these projects have a very high rate of return for the economy as a whole, which will be important as the UK recovers. With the difficulties PFI and PPP projects are encountering in securing funds, now – more than ever – is the time to consider alternative funding methods.
“One idea strongly advocated by ICE would be to explore the establishment of a National Infrastructure Bank. This could plug some of the gap created by the credit crunch allow the cost of major projects to be spread over their very long operational life.”