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Need for stronger leadership on infrastructure to gain public support

Strong public support for infrastructure investment in the UK exists but there is a need for greater engagement at project level, according to a new report published today.

The “Independent survey of attitudes to infrastructure in Great Britain 2015 found that many people feel that infrastructure projects happen “to them” not “for them” and they do not see any local or national coordination.

The report, published by Copper Consultancy and Icaro in partnership with consultant Peter Brett Associates, found that 87% support investment in infrastructure, and 85% want to see world-leading or solid improvements to existing infrastructure. However, only 6% of British people think there is a “very well co-ordinated” national or local plan.

Community engagement and greater consultation were named as the two main factors that would increase public confidence in the infrastructure sector.

At the launch of the report this morning, National Infrastructure Commission chair Lord Adonis said: “This report is timely and vital. For too long the British people have been forced to put up with chaos, congestion and costs, thanks to successive governments’ failure to build the long term infrastructure this country needs. So as we establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission, it is clear we have to utterly transform the way we plan and deliver major projects in this country.

“This survey shows that the public want proper investment and planning behind world class developments. But whilst the support is there for real improvement, people rightly demand proper engagement and genuine consultation.

“It is now up to the industry as a whole to take these findings forward and build the broad coalition of support we need to secure the projects of the future.”

Institution of Civil Engineers president and National Infrastructure Commissioner Sir John Armitt added: Public interest in infrastructure is as much driven by fear of disrupted lives as it is by a promise of greater convenience, speed or improved quality of life. The challenge for us all – ICE, Government and the NIC alike - is to open up the debate and address these fears. Our ability to explain – in plain language - what we are trying to achieve and why, to be prepared to consider alternative solutions and to put ourselves in the public’s shoes is absolutely vital if we are to gain sufficient political and public support, without which important projects simply cannot proceed.”

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