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Budget 2012: Infrastructure plans are nothing new

Date: 21 March 2012   |   Author: Rupert Saunders

Plans for investment in the UK's transport and commercial infrastructure that were announced in the Budget were largely repetitions of promises made in the previous autumn statement or notices of intent rather than firm commitments.

The chancellor raised, once again, the question of road funding but only said the Government will "carry out a feasibility study into new ownership and ?nancing models for the national road network, learning lessons from the water industry".

There was also a repeat of the proposal to improve a section of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge, "some of which could be part funded through tolling".

In addition, the Government is considering measures to shift more freight from road to rail and to enhance public transport. The preferred package will be ?nalised by July 2012.

Plans for an extra river crossing to ease congestion in east London are being looked at but, again, the commitment is vague. The Treasury documentation only says: "The Government will explore the case for using the Planning Act 2008 to streamline the planning process for the proposed additional river crossings in East London".

Moving away from transport, the Government has selected Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle to become super-connected cities, as part of the £100 million investment announced in the autumn statement.

By 2015 this will deliver ultra fast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and 200,000 businesses as well as high-speed wireless broadband for three million residents. The Government will also provide an additional £50 million to fund a second wave of ten smaller super-connected cities.

There are plans to extend mobile coverage along at least ten key roads by 2015. They are the A2 and A29 in Northern Ireland, the A57, A143, A169, A352, A360 and A591 in England, the A82(T) in Scotland and the A470(T) in Wales. The proposal is subject to planning permission.

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