The UK government is expected to sell its 40 per cent stake in the Eurostar rail service under a new infrastructure spending plan.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander also confirmed a £1 billion Government guarantee for the construction of the Northern Line extension and £50 million for a new railway station at Gatwick, among a bonanza of eye-catching proposals.
Funding for a new nuclear power station in Northern Wales has also been given the green light.
He said: “You name it, we’re building it right now. This is great news for the people of the UK because after years of neglect, the UK’s energy, road, rail, flood defence, communications and water infrastructure needs renewal.”
The previous three National Infrastructure Plans, the first of which was published after the Coalition came to power in 2010, have been accused of being little more than wish-lists. However, Alexander has tried to calm concerns by also announcing that six major insurers will invest £25 billion in UK industry over the next five years.
Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson said that today’s publication meant that these insurers can “accelerate our plans in this asset class” and that “investing in the right infrastructure projects delivers for our customers and UK plc”.
However, Deloitte head of infrastructure Nick Prior warned that little of this investment will have any short-term impact on the economy.
He said: “The reality is, little of this money will be spent this side of 2015, so we won’t see shovels in the ground on new projects for some time… The intention is there but the funding is still aspirational.”
Mat Riley, head of infrastructure at consultant EC Harris, said the revised plan was “again, strong on headlines but unclear on delivery”. He added that “politicians are in denial” and that much of the cost will ultimately be passed on to consumers.
Overall, the government hopes to inject £375 billion in new investment dedicated to transport, energy, water and communications projects.
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