Public back more energy and transport infrastructure investment

The public’s top three priorities for investment are housing, renewable energy and motorways, according to a new survey.

A report published today by Copper Consultancy in partnership with TLF Research, shows 51% of the public believe housing investment should a top priority for this country, while 48% also choose renewable energy and 36% said more money should be spent on motorways and major roads.

Around a quarter (25%) also highlighted flood defences as a key investment priority, while a similar figure (21.8%) opted for improvements to waste facilities.

According to the survey, people living in northern and central England place more emphasis than other regions on motorways and major roads, while those living in Scotland and Wales are more likely to see railways as a priority.

Flood defences were priorities in Wales and Northern England, with the strongest support from people around Leeds and Newcastle.

The survey also found 60% of people said they would be more interested in infrastructure and development projects if the benefits were clearly explained to them.

More than three quarters (78.9%) of people said the most import criteria when deciding what infrastructure the country should invest in should be whether it will help the national economy in the long run.

While around two thirds (64.8%) said connecting cities should be a key criteria.

The report recommends developers and the public sector combine housing and infrastructure and explain how they will form the ‘spine of post-Brexit UK’.

‘What’s clear from the research is that the public wants the opportunity to support infrastructure, but unless they understand the benefits, people do not feel equipped to get involved,’ said Copper Consultancy’s managing director, Linda Taylor.

‘The government and industry have an opportunity to tell a coherent story about the real-life benefits that investment in infrastructure and housing delivers,’ she added.

‘Our research shows that when the benefits are made clear, the public is supportive. If we achieve this, the public support for infrastructure could lead to fewer delays to projects and the benefits of infrastructure will be realised sooner.’

The president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Professor Lord Robert Mair, added: ‘The report shows the public can link positive change to infrastructure investment if they understand the benefits as outcomes and impacts to them. Engaging and educating the public – who are ultimately the customers and end users in infrastructure –  is therefore crucial.

‘To achieve this, we need to change the language around the subject and make the profession of civil engineering more accessible. It is up to us to take the findings of this report forward and to proactively tell our stories to the public.’

Photo by johnomason

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Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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