Leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA) backed the Transport Select Committee’s report published today: Transport and the economy. The report calls for greater development of the UK’s port and airport infrastructure and more funding and consideration given to regions of the country where transport infrastructure has been sorely lacking.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, said:
"You can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy transport infrastructure and at the moment there are parts of the network that are simply not designed with a growing economy in mind, especially in the north of England. The fact that spending on national road schemes fell by 45 per cent last year and local authority budgets for capital schemes were slashed, shows that the government needs to look more closely at its spending priorities.
"We have seen time and time again the needs of the national transport interest subjugated by regional, narrow-focused concerns. We are talking essential supply chains thwarted by local small interests groups on a very local basis. Intermodal freight terminals, for instance, could have a huge impact on the UK meeting its carbon reduction goals, but without a joined-up, big picture approach from government their future looks severely limited."
FTA has previously voiced the need for a strategic set of investment priorities to ensure that connectivity is in place to support the movement of goods through international gateways and along the most appropriate transport mode. FTA has publicly criticised the Localism Bill giving local councils more say over planning decisions as bad news for UK transport infrastructure.
"For the UK to compete on a European, much less global, level its international gateways must play a larger role in government infrastructure planning. Not only will this make UK PLC a better place to do business with, it will provide greater returns for domestic businesses. For example, greater planning around our ports would mean less congestion, which would be good news for port operators, hauliers, shippers and for the environment too.
"If planning proposals on schemes like rail freight terminals and truck stops are only considered at a local level and not looked at objectively then we are really missing a trick and doing harm to the economy in the process. The plans to develop Parkside Colliery in Newton-le-Willows were not helped by efforts locally to stall the project and in the end it proved to by uneconomical for the developers to proceed.
"We support the committee’s recommendations and look to the coalition government to ensure that there is adequate provision in connectivity particularly in the North which needs vital infrastructure improvement projects, like the Northern Hub, to be ‘green lit’."