Britons want to move further and faster in delivering net zero infrastructure, says new report

Image by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash

Less than a third (32%) of Britons say they are satisfied with the state of the country’s infrastructure, according to a new report. 

The Global Infrastructure Investor Association (GIIA) and Ipsos study also says more than two-thirds (70%) don’t believe the country’s infrastructure is sufficiently adapted to deal with climate change. 

A similar proportion (67%) agree that “we are not building the infrastructure we need quickly enough”.

The news comes as Rishi Sunak recently said government was taking a more “pragmatic” and “realistic” path to reach net zero by 2050 – a decision that has been met with much concern from industry leaders

The major study of public attitudes towards infrastructure investment was conducted by Ipsos among 22,816 adults across 31 counties between May and June 2023, of which 1,002 were based in Great Britain.

Figures revealed that when it comes to paying for infrastructure investment, the majority (66%) of Britons agree the cost of new investment should be spread fairly across current and future taxpayers. 

The proportion (38%) agreeing “public spending in Great Britain is already high and taxes and government borrowing should not be increased any more to improve infrastructure” is up two percentage points from two years ago.

GIIA chief executive Jon Phillips said: “The message from this new research is clear: the public wants us to move further and faster in delivering infrastructure investment, especially when it comes to attaining net zero. 

“The proportion of Britons who say this delivery should not be facilitated by new public spending has risen, and this is where international investors can come in: taking pressure off public balance sheets by providing the inward investment needed to help drive economic growth and achieve net zero.

“The US has been the standout infrastructure investment destination over the past 12 months. As the Autumn Statement nears, the treasury must look again at the regulatory reforms and incentives needed to increase the UK’s investor appeal.”

Britons flag wind power as their top priority area for infrastructure investment.

Close to half (44%) name it as a priority, ahead of water supply and sewerage (41%), solar energy (40%), local roads (38%) and rail infrastructure (35%). 

The proportion highlighting nuclear as a priority area (25%) is up nine percentage points compared to 2021 when the survey was last conducted.  

The majority of people (63%) also agree local communities’ views on plans for infrastructure should be heard properly, even if it means delays.

British frustration with speed of delivery is especially noticeable in sectors such as EV charging, where just 32% are positive about the country’s current infrastructure.   

The findings come as the amended Energy Bill reaches its final stages in Parliament and the latest UK renewable energy auction round yielded no new offshore wind power capacity.   

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