JBP Public Policy Briefing

31 July 2014, News

Boris Johnson launches consultation for London Infrastructure Plan 2050 which sets out the capital’s infrastructure requirements over the next half-century

On Wednesday (30th July) the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, launched the consultation stage of the Greater London Authority’s draft manifesto for meeting London’s future infrastructure demands.

The Mayor’s ambitious plans are in alignment with the national Government who have put investing in infrastructure at the top of their agenda.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, will launch £15 billion worth of opportunities to invest in UK infrastructure this week at the Commonwealth Games Business Conference in Glasgow.

HM Treasury and UK Trade & Investment have identified five opportunities to invest in projects:

1. Naert na Gaoithe Offshore Wind Farm – which has pre-qualified for a UK Guarantee from the Government and which is expected to be under construction by 2015

2. Carnbroe Energy From Waste Plant – which when operational will produce 22MW of electricity from waste

3. Moray Firth & Inch Cape –two offshore Wind Farms in Scotland, each set to generate over 1000MW of electricity

4. The Circuit of Wales – A long term sustainable regeneration project that provides two hotels and retail, residential and leisure facilities centred around a new leading motorsport destination;

5. Estover Energy – who are developing a number of new small‐scale Combined Heat & Power plants

In the financial year 2013/2014 foreign businesses invested in 310 infrastructure and energy projects which have created over 31,000 jobs.

London Infrastructure Plan 2050

The report has mapped out plans for infrastructure investment in order to allow London to retain its world-class status and continue to compete on a global scale. In light of increasing pressures of population and issues that are associated with this rise, the document has called for a framework to be put in place to ensure that the capital continues to operate efficiently and successfully.

The report forecasts a population increase of 37% by 2050, to exceed 11m people. The main challenges that this rise will impact are identified as: (1) demand for housing, (2) crowding on transport, (3) water supply and (4) threat of flooding.

The Mayor plans to establish a London Infrastructure Delivery Board consisting of representatives of London’s main infrastructure providers to meet the demands over future years.

Key infrastructure project have been named as at least one more Crossrail scheme (the north south line), a hub airport in the Thames Estuary, an orbital road tunnel and 9,000ha of new green space. At present the cost between 2016 and 2050 is estimated at £1.3trillion, but the Mayor has expressed a desire to reduce this cost.

According to the plans, around 50,000 new homes must be provided a year to accommodate London’s growing population. These figures coincide with the Greater London Authority’s new report “Gap in the Market” (29th July) that has recommended that there is enough redundant land on London’s council estates to build an extra 100,000 homes.

Conclusion

Infrastructure has become a crucial debate in UK politics. Boris’s bold infrastructure plans for London are seen by some as political posturing as he edges towards returning to Westminster in 2015.

The tension between team Boris and team Cameron has been well documented but the Prime Minister has stated that he would welcome him back into Parliament. Compliments have continued with the Chancellor, George Osborne, calling for every city to have their own Boris (elected Mayor) who can drive forward development and infrastructure projects. These comments came after the Government were criticised for failing to do enough to increase economic development in the North of England.

Some might wonder whether Boris’s increased interest in infrastructure could all be part of a plan. Is Bojo about to follow in the footsteps of John Prescott and could his return reap a “super ministry”?

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