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£15bn Roads Investment Strategy is “great news for logistics”

£15bn Roads Investment Strategy is “great news for logistics”

The Freight Transport Association has voiced its support of the Roads Investment Strategy (RIS) which was announced by the Department for Transport on Monday 1st December – saying that it is “good news for the freight and logistics sector.”

The first ever Roads Investment Strategy outlines plans for 1,300 new lane miles on motorways and trunk roads, in order to tackle congestion and fix some of the most notorious and longstanding problem areas on the UK road network.

Malcolm Bingham – FTA Head of Road Network Management Policy said: “FTA believes that this investment announcement has significant benefits for the freight industry in setting improvements to journey reliability. The freight and logistics industry relies upon reliable road infrastructure to ensure that products are move efficiently and at reasonable cost.”

Described as an ambitious £15bn plan to triple levels of spending by the end of the decade to increase the capacity and condition of England’s roads, the RIS was announced to Parliament by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

On announcing the Roads Investment Strategy, Patrick McLoughlin commented: “Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades. It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain’s economic potential. Roads are key to our nation’s prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.”

The RIS sets out a vision for the Strategic Road Network and aims to deliver far greater consistency across the network going forward. As a result investment will be focused on delivering: a network of ‘smart motorways’ and ‘expressways’; improvements to support the Northern Power House (including announcing a new study into a trans Pennine tunnel); supporting growth and housing; better connections between key routes (e.g. Oxford to Cambridge) and to other end points (e.g. Mersey Port); and safety and congestion (including new study into the South West quadrant of M25.
 
Malcolm Bingham added: “Our challenge now is to make sure that these announced schemes are taken forward and the work that will be inevitable during construction is done with the minimum of disruption.”
 
On Tuesday 2nd December, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was due to visit the A303 at Stonehenge in Wiltshire and the Woodhead Pass as part of the launch of what is said to be ‘the biggest upgrade to Britain’s roads in a generation.’

BIFA WELCOMES PLANS

BIFA, the British International Freight Association has also welcomed the news  of the £15bn investment in the UK's road infrastructure.

When the investment plan was initially announced in 2013, the trade association for UK forwarders gave it a cautionary welcome saying that it 'expected to see some spades in the ground'.
 
BIFA Director General, Robert Keen says: "Many times over the last 20 years, BIFA has welcomed the news that governments would allocate finance to infrastructure improvement projects, including roads and railways.
 
"We understand that the plans being announced today are for around 100 road improvement schemes and the addition of 1,300 new miles of extra lanes to motorways and A roads.
 
"On behalf of our members, which rely on the UK roads network to collect and deliver the vast majority of the UK's imports and exports, we hope that the plans mean that the talking is over and we will actually see construction taking place."

CBI WELCOMES STONEHENGE GREEN LIGHT

The CBI commented on the Government’s announcement of a five-year Road Investment Strategy, which included a commitment to build a tunnel underneath Stonehenge and upgrades to the A1 north of Newcastle.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: "This five-year strategy marks a significant milestone in our journey towards the delivery of much-needed upgrades to our existing road network, the arteries of our economy.

“I’ve been calling for a tunnel underneath Stonehenge as part of wider upgrades along the A303, a lifeline for businesses in the South West, so I am glad to see it getting the green light.

“It is essential now that we see a commitment from all sides to take this programme forward in the coming Parliament, shifting our focus towards delivery.

“Our recent infrastructure survey showed how important infrastructure is to UK businesses, but with 57% fearing transport links could worsen in the next five years, now is the time for action.

“Businesses want to see a pro-growth Autumn Statement. That’s why we are calling for an overhaul of the outdated business rates system, which harms companies’ growth, and expanding R&D tax credits, to further improve the UK’s ability to compete globally.”

In its Autumn Statement letter to the Chancellor, the CBI is calling for:

  • Switching the uprating of business rates from the Retail Price Index (RPI) to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), alongside raising the threshold for smaller properties and more frequent property valuations
  • Supercharging the R&D tax credit to incentivise the domestic development, commercialisation and manufacture of our ideas here in the UK, and prioritising Government spending on science and catapult centres
  • Addressing the Annual Investment Allowance ‘cliff edge’, which is due to fall from £500,000 to £25,000 in 2016
  • Ensuring further devolution promotes local growth while maintaining the integrity of the internal market, including a common regime for business taxes, employment law and the labour market, financial services and energy
  • Freezing Band B, long-haul Air Passenger Duty tax

ROADS UPGRADE "A MAJOR BOOST" TO SOUTH-WEST ECONOMY

Responding to the news, John Mulholland, director in JLL’s Bristol office, said: “With key connections to the A36 and A350, the A303 is a pivotal part of the region’s transport network, so these outlined improvements will result in a major boost to the local economy.

"The upgrade will reinforce communication links between London and the South West, significantly benefiting strategic distribution sites currently connected to the A303 or in the pipeline for this area. Meanwhile, the South West’s thriving tourism and leisure offer is likely to reap the rewards of this project too as hotel chains will undoubtedly be eyeing the plans closely to see where they need to be to best capitalise on this investment.”

Regarding the new junction off the M49 at Avonmouth, Matthew Cross, head of inward investment at Invest Bristol & Bath, said: “This new junction will be a significant boost to the strategic regeneration projects planned for the Avonmouth/Severnside Enterprise Area, linking high quality office space to other key hubs in the region and nationally.

"This will encourage companies from outside the region, both from elsewhere in the UK and overseas, to invest in the area, particularly with Hinkley Point C in the pipeline as this project will attract supply chain companies in highly skilled sectors such as science, technology and engineering. It is excellent to see that the necessary investment is being made to open up these opportunities.”

PRAISE FOR M49 LINK DECISION

Business leaders have also welcomed news that the Government has finally given the go ahead for a new junction on the M49 outside Bristol.

Logistics expert Tim Davies from Colliers International - who has been lobbying for the link for years - said: “Industry chiefs will be revising their business plans now that the Avonmouth and Severnside industrial hub will finally get the new junction businesses have been crying out for.

“Given its location beside the M4/M5 interchange, Avonmouth and Severnside is as handy for firms needing Midlands connections as it is for businesses looking to connect with the capital.

“The new link will open up thousands of acres of landlocked brownfield sites and bring vast areas of derelict land back in to the public realm.  It will also give the area’s status as an Enterprise Area a much-needed lift.

“Just as importantly, it will help ease traffic volumes using the existing infrastructure – which has been struggling to cope with increased levels of activity as the recovery gathers pace.”

Major occupiers in the West’s busiest distribution hub include Honda, GKN, Farm Foods, Morrisons, Tesco, Asda and the Co-op. Tim said recent deals had been getting bigger and bigger - with significant demand in the pipeline.

He went on: “With the economy on an upward spiral there will be a couple of major occupiers taking an interest in this new link.  Avonmouth has always attracted its fair share of major occupiers but the new link will speed direct access to the motorway network and bring more business West.”

The Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area includes 4,450 acres of open land – much of it on brownfield sites.

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