The 20th October promises to be crunch day for many of the government’s transport infrastructure plans. It’s the day of the “comprehensive spending review” and the past few weeks have been dominated by various interest groups demanding that their particular bit of the national budget be protected.
And, for the most part, they have a point. After all, it’s not hard to make strong cases for ring-fencing spending on health, education and so on. And, with so many different lobbying groups fighting for attention, it is particularly difficult for the logistics industry to make its voice heard.
In making its case for transport investment, the Freight Transport Association appears to have chosen not to try and defend everything, but to produce a list of critical road and rail schemes that should be saved from government cuts.
It’s a sensible tactic. The government has plenty of excuses to postpone transport investment – no money, green politics, and the strong nimbyist tendency on its own back benches.
Highlighting particular transport problems is much more likely to strike a chord with ministers – particularly if their constituencies are affected.
The FTA list covers road and rail links to the major ports, as well as much of the core motorway network – accounting for many hundreds of miles of road and railway.
Chief executive Theo de Pencier said: “Worryingly, those road and rail corridors that are likely to become congestion hotspots due to greater freight growth over the next decade are already under the greatest strain.”
It’s easy to think that all this is really obvious and any sensible minister would understand the importance to the economy of transport investment. But at this moment, it is even more easy for
that message to be drowned out by the clamour from all the other campaigners.
The government will announce its plans in a matter of days – and protecting our freight transport networks is something worth shouting about.