Firms open to idea of road charging

Highways Reporters

Three quarters of firms who responded to the 2015 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey are open to the idea of road charging as a way of boosting investment.

The majority of businesses (62%) are concerned with the pace of progress on the delivery of infrastructure projects, and over half (53%) believe they won’t see necessary upgrades in the next five years, according to the survey results.

With 94% of the 722 firms surveyed saying the quality of infrastructure is a key deciding factor in planning their investments, there is clear consensus on the need to speed up the delivery of projects crucial to the British economy in this Parliament, and to reverse decades of underinvestment and policy change.

The key statistics from the roads sector are as follows:

  • 96% of businesses are concerned about congestion on Britain’s roads, which costs the economy £8 billion each year (according to the RAC Foundation)

  • 89% of firms see investment in roads as crucial or beneficial, and more than half (56%) want to see further increases in spending, rising to two thirds (67%) in Scotland and Wales

  • To boost investment, almost three quarters (72%) are open to the idea of road charging

  • Over 80% of firms are concerned about the poor quality of the UK’s roads.

In total, there are £411 billion worth of infrastructure upgrades, which need to be delivered. These include a new runway in the South East (important to 91% of firms), upgrades to the rail network (45% of firms want spending increased), and investment in a diverse, secure energy mix (vital to 97% of firms).

For these projects to be delivered this Parliament, Britain’s largest business group and the global infrastructure services firm AECOM want to see the government create a business environment primed to support delivery from conception to completion.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “The arteries of modern Britain are working overtime. Whether it’s our creaking railways, clogged roads, and crowded runways, or our digital links and the energy to power them struggling to keep up, businesses now want the Government to deliver the large scale upgrades that it has made ambitious strides towards. The quality of infrastructure is a key factor in firms’ investment decisions, so businesses, communities and the whole country simply can’t afford the cost of inaction."

Dave Beddell, market sector director, strategic highways – Europe, AECOM, said: “The overriding message from the businesses that took part in the 2015 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey is the urgent need to turn encouraging developments in infrastructure policy into delivery. In roads, the publication of the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) was a positive step that has buoyed investment in the sector. While 96% of respondents want the £15billion RIS spending commitment delivered, more than half would like to see investment increase beyond what has already been promised. Interestingly, almost three-quarters of firms are open to the idea of road charging as a way of boosting funds.

“The majority of firms consider improvements to local roads imperative and as important as improvements to the strategic road network. With UK businesses using both networks to meet their needs, underinvestment in local roads risks causing congestion that could undermine the benefits of investment in the strategic network. Indeed 96% of firms are concerned about increasing traffic levels on the network. Given the importance of roads to UK business, the case for additional investment is strong.”
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