20th March 2020

Environment Get Britain building, says Sunak in infrastructure plan

Environment Get Britain building, says Sunak in infrastructure plan

Environment

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Roads and broadband internet will be the centrepieces of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new spending bonanza.

He unveiled £27bn of investment in roads, including improved junctions, dual carriageways and tunnels.

There will also be up to £510m for a shared rural mobile phone network.

The infrastructure push will “get Britain building”, Mr Sunak said, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the measures would not reverse the damage done by austerity.

The package also includes previously announced measures such as a £5bn investment in gigabit broadband for remote areas of the UK and £500m for rapid charging hubs for electric cars.

The Treasury will make £120m available to repair defences damaged in the winter floods, while the government will double investment to £5.2bn for flood defences over six years.

“We are investing in world-class infrastructure and to lead the world in the industries and technologies of the future,” he said.

“The central judgement I’m making today is to fund an additional £175bn over the next five years for our future prosperity.”

Environment Two challenges

The increase takes gross capital investment to £640bn over the five-year life of this Parliament.

Mr Sunak said the Office for Budgetary Responsibility estimated that the spending would mean higher UK economic growth over the next two years by 0.5 percentage points.

His road plans include:

  • Building a new dual carriageway and tunnel to speed up journeys on the A303 and cut traffic around Stonehenge
  • Making the A66, which crosses the Pennines, a dual carriageway
  • improving the M60 in Manchester to tackle delays.

However, investment spending in London is still double that in the East Midlands, said Mr Corbyn, for which he blamed Conservative governance.

He said a new green industrial revolution was needed to quell the threat of climate change, and that the new roads planned would harm the environment further.

“The two big challenges for government are to spend it that quickly – it is really record amounts,” said Paul Johnson, director of the Institute For Fiscal Studies.

“The other is to spend it well. Not all infrastructure spending is good.”

Mr Johnson said debt payments may well go down because of how cheap government s can borrow amid the low-rates environment.

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