Transport minister highlights importance of infrastructure post-Brexit

Confronting many fears head on, John Hayes, minister of state at the Department for Transport, has stressed the key importance of UK infrastructure after leaving the European Union.

Speaking at the recent Construction News summit, Hayes addressed an audience of those who know first-hand the effort that goes into providing society with the infrastructure necessary to support modern life and extolled the positive role that infrastructure has played and will play in moving the UK as a society forward in the years to come.

With the building sector feeling the immediate pinch after the referendum and many worried that businesses will be negatively impacted when Article 50 is invoked, the minister confronted ‘Brexit’ fears head on. 

“Brexit won’t make us inward looking. Far from it. It will do the precise opposite," he said. "Outside the EU, investment in our long-term infrastructure will become more important, not less” Hayes said.

Against a background of the government's ambitious infrastructure plans, Hayes acknowledged that there was real potential in infrastructure investments and he confronted the often unspoken fear of many in the industry that the recent governmental changes will delay or cancel anticipated follow through on large-scale infrastructure needed to deliver these plans.

Concentrating particularly on transport infrastructure, Hayes said: “Transport spending will rise by half, providing continuity to see these big projects through to completion and seizing new opportunities."

He assured those attending the conference that, despite the National Infrastructure Commission not being included in statutory legislation and the delay on the Hinkley C decision, the current government remains totally committed to infrastructure.

The question is of course, will the future actions of the government fulfil the promises they have made on investing in large-scale infrastructure projects? 

With the decision on airport capacity in the south east expected very soon, the industry is not likely swayed fully by Hayes's warm words and the assurances of the new Theresa May administration, waiting instead to see if May’s government leads by example in infrastructure investments - and not just for those plans advanced by previous governments but also in initiating new projects that address the current and future needs of the British people. 

Hayes remained confident, saying "We can stand tall and proud because our government has been bold and ambitious.” However, actions will speak louder than words and the industry will be hoping that the government of which Hayes is part will show by their decisions, deeds and actions that they are indeed "bold and ambitious” when it comes to the delivery of UK infrastructure.