Message from the editor | Issue 07 | Jan 15

As described in the pages of the January issue of Infrastructure Intelligence, the prospects for a busy 2015 across the built environment are looking very good indeed.

Despite the obvious political uncertainty thrown up by a General Election, continued investment in infrastructure is clearly locked into all major party plans as a robust strategy for vital economic growth.

Yet as we look forward to projects such as Thames Tideway Tunnel, Crossrail 2, High Speed 2 and new airport capacity making headway in 2015, it remains impossible to ignore the constant challenge to progress that still besets the UK infrastructure planning system.

"The good news is that the momentum behind investing in infrastructure continues."

Certainly the system has moved forward in the 20 years since a four year public inquiry scarred Heathrow Terminal 5. But a quick look at the work currently underway to winapproval for HS2, is still going on to clear Thames Tideway Tunnels for a start and that is about to start on Crossrail 2 and you clearly see that the UK is far from an easy place to invest in infrastructure .

And let’s not get started on the Davies Commission, and its ability to finally decide where to build new runways in the south east.

It is, of course, unlikely that solutions to our planning problems will feature as politicians jostle for votes in the four months leading to the Election. However, giventhat infrastructure is critical to all party plans, it must remain central to thinking as a new government is formed.

Labour’s Armitt Review has already proposed an infrastructure planning commission to embed long term thinking into the short term political cycle. Now writing in this month’s magazine, former Tory minister Stephen Hammond sets out plans for a Department for Infrastructure to provide similar long term investment focus.

And there are certainly many alternative ideas out there.

The good news is that the momentum behind investing in infrastructure continues. The challenge, if this is to continue, must now be to find a system which allows sensible decisions to be made in sensible timeframes. Seeking a solution must be a task for 2015.

Antony Oliver is the editor of Infrastructure Intelligence 

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