Representatives from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and the region’s business community came together at the Port of Southampton this week to discuss the future of infrastructure in the UK as part of a visit by the National Infrastructure Commission.
The organisation, which provides expert, impartial advice to government on infrastructure – is currently touring the country to discuss its recently published National Infrastructure Assessment. The first of its kind for the UK, it analyses the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outlines a strategic vision over the next 30 years and sets out recommendations on how the identified needs should be met.
Organised by the LEP, a roundtable discussion brought together local business leaders and the Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt CBE. Attendees had the opportunity to feed back on the Assessment and discuss how its recommendations would support economic prosperity in the Solent region. The visit also included a tour of the Port of Southampton, with the Commission currently undertaking a study on the future of the UK’s freight industry.
Gary Jeffries, Chair of Solent LEP said:
“Solent LEP is working hard to encourage increased infrastructure investment in the region, with the National Infrastructure Commission having recently identified the Southampton and Portsmouth area as suffering some of the worst congestion outside of London.
“This has been a terrific opportunity to share our thoughts on the Commission‘s recommendations, which cover issues such as the delivery of new transport, housing, low carbon energy and digital networks, to name just a few.
“We were able to bring together key representatives from the public and private sectors to learn more about the Assessment and provide feedback to Sir John and his colleagues about what it would mean for our region, as well as highlight the potential that exists here.”
Sir John Armitt CBE, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said:
“From providing cities with more devolved transport funding to rolling out full-fibre broadband, our National Infrastructure Assessment, if realised, would bring great benefit to businesses and communities in the Solent region.
“There is clear enthusiasm among local leaders for improving the area’s infrastructure and I hope they will come together to urge ministers to implement our recommendations.
“The Commission is currently examining how we can ensure our freight networks are fit for the future and I was pleased to visit Southampton’s magnificent port to inform this work. This is a city which has huge strategic importance, not just for the freight industry, but for the UK economy as a whole.”
Alastair Welch, Port Director of ABP Southampton, said:
"It has been a pleasure to host Sir John and NIC colleagues at the port today and provide an opportunity to see first-hand the UKs biggest export and Northern Europe's biggest cruise port to understand first-hand the key role the ports infrastructure plays as we keep Britain trading."
The Government is required to formally respond to the National Infrastructure Assessment by next summer.
For more information about the National Infrastructure Commission‘s work, visit www.nic.org.uk.