MPs have called on the government to publish a White Paper on its transport strategy, and highlighted the need for investment in ports and airports.
In a new report on Transport and the Economy, the House of Commons Transport Committee said the government needed to explain how its spending on transport would deliver economic growth and development.
The government needed a much stronger strategy for developing the UK’s major ports and airports, MPs said. “Improving connectivity through these key international gateways simply does not feature prominently enough in the Government’s current approach to the economy.”
Committee chair Louise Ellman said: “We welcome the coalition government’s commitment to undertake transport investment that will deliver sustainable growth and enterprise, including “green” industries, balanced across all sectors and in a manner that will reduce regional disparities.
The committee said there was an urgent need to increase transport investment in the north of the country to boost the capacity for economic growth.
The Freight Transport Association said it supported the report. Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy, said: “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.”
And he warned: “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’.”