Sarah Green column

On Friday, Sir Rod Eddington issued his transport study, "The Case for Action - Sir Rod Eddington's Advice to Government", and Sir Rod entertained an audience of key regional stakeholders, including the CBI, by videolink from the Treasury yesterday to ensure the North-East's questions were answered.

On Friday, Sir Rod Eddington issued his transport study, "The Case for Action - Sir Rod Eddington's Advice to Government", and Sir Rod entertained an audience of key regional stakeholders, including the CBI, by videolink from the Treasury yesterday to ensure the North-East's questions were answered.

The good news is that Sir Rod recognises carefully targeted investment in transport infrastructure can generate very high economic returns.

This link between economic growth and transport investment is particularly critical to our region, if we are to meet the targets set in the Regional Economic Strategy of unprecedented economic growth over 10 years.

He says the highest returns are likely to come from smaller projects which unlock pinch points, schemes to support public transport in urban areas and international gateway projects - ports and airports that boost international business.

And he states that rather than spending on mega new projects, we need to make the best of what we have. That means road pricing, among other things.

Most businesses now feel a national road pricing scheme to cut congestion is inevitable and so welcome his route map to implementing a system in 10 years.

However, there is a lot of work to do to ensure the design of any scheme is right and that any revenue raised benefits road users.

We're pleased the report also recognises the problems created by an over-bureaucratic and unwieldy planning system.

To pave the way for transport improvements, Sir Rod urges the Government to establish an independent planning commission for strategic transport schemes, aimed at reducing the cost, uncertainty and delay in the system.

It is critical that government takes this report seriously. The development of the transport system will not only play an important role in future economic growth in the UK, but also in how the country tackles environmental issues.

The CBI will now look for firm policies and commitment to developing and implementing Sir Rod's proposals in the Government's forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.

In the meantime, keep sending me your views - what transport improvements are required to help your business?

Sarah Green is regional director of CBI North-East.

 

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