As campaigning for the 2017 General Election gathers pace, there was a flurry of manifesto launches for the main political parties in England last week. We take a closer look at the infrastructure pledges made in each manifesto.
The Labour Party kicked things off as Jeremy Corbyn launched their manifesto on Tuesday morning.
Labour has pledged an investment of £250bn in infrastructure over ten years through a National Transformation Fund which will be used to deliver a range of investments including in transport, low carbon energy, superfast (and ultrafast) broadband and house building.
On the list of transport projects committed to are HS2, HS3, Crossrail 2, rail electrification and a new Brighton Main Line. There is also a commitment to upgrade highways and improve roadworks at known bottlenecks, and recognition of the need for additional airport capacity in the South East.
There’s a promise to invest in new school buildings, to boost capital funding for the NHS, to insulate 4 million homes and a commitment to renewable energy projects including tidal lagoons, though the Swansea bay project is not specifically named. Fracking would be banned under a Labour government.
There are a number of pledges not to privatise or to halt the privatisation of public services and assets including prisons, the NHS and care services, and to bring already privatised industries back into public ownership, including railways, water and national grid infrastructure.
On Wednesday morning it was the turn of Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats to launch their manifesto.
If elected, the Lib Dems have pledged to deliver a £100bn package of additional infrastructure investment, with £5bn of initial capital placed in a new British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to attract investment from the private sector. Investment priorities include road and rail infrastructure, renewable energy, schools and hospitals and hyperfast broadband.
They make specific commitments to HS2, HS3 and Crossrail 2, the development of a high-speed network to Scotland and rail electrification.
Investment would also be made in renewable energies, including energy storage, smart grid technology and off-shore wind, and the Swansea bay tidal lagoon project given immediate go ahead. A Lib Dem government would not support fracking, however.
Investment in schools and hospitals would be made to support capacity increases and modernisation, and there is a promise to build 300,000 homes a year by 2022.
Theresa May launched the Conservative Party manifesto shortly before midday on Thursday.
She made commitments to deliver HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Heathrow Airport expansion and rail electrification, and there was an eye-catching pledge to make “the largest investment in railways since Victorian times”. Whether this is a new pledge or a reference to the major rail projects already promised is unclear, but Crossrail 2 is certainly absent from the list of specific commitments.
There is also a pledge to upgrade primary care facilities, mental health clinics and hospitals and another eye-catching statement that this will amount to “the most ambitious programme of investment in building and technology the NHS has ever seen”. Details of the budget for this programme or its delivery are not given, but we anticipate an element would be delivered through Project Phoenix, the government’s revival and revamping of the NHS LIFT programme. You can read more about Project Phoenix in our Law Now article here.
There are pledges to invest over £1bn to modernise the prison estate, to invest £178bn in military equipment over the next decade, and a new commitment to build 1.5 million homes by the end of 2022.
The Tories are also committed to offshore wind projects, particularly in the remote islands of Scotland, and they would develop the shale industry, but they do not support more large-scale onshore wind power in England and there is no commitment to tidal lagoon projects.
Plenty to debate and digest then over the coming few weeks, and the industry will be encouraged that infrastructure investment appears to remain a priority for each of the largest political parties in England.