Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt has announced a range of measures, cuts and funding concerning transport projects and planning in the government’s autumn statement [22 November].
A central focus of the statement was devolution of more democratic powers to mayors and regional authorities, including affording extra powers to transport bodies over the development of local projects.
These powers include new levers over how local transport is run and how funding is spent. This firms part of the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation to devolve local transport powers and funding to local authorities.
The chancellor also announced further funding from the cancelled HS2 project, which has been committed to Northern authorities to better support transport links between and within towns and cities.
A statutory consultation concerning the progress of East West Rail was also announced, with £2.5bn committed in funding for a West Yorkshire mass transit system.
Subject to the business case, the government will also provide funding for a rapid transit bus network in Thamesmead, as part of its vision for a new Docklands 2.0.
In total, £36bn of savings from HS2 will be reallocated to Network North, a collection of alternative transport projects across the UK, to support transport planning, drive growth and improve connectivity across the North of England.
The government has named decarbonisation efforts as key to ongoing governmental planning, both through continued support of electric vehicle (EV) uptake in support of its net zero 2040 goal, and reduced industry emissions.
Reforms to the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) have also been introduced to ensure that the future of EVs will conform in line with the government’s 2040 target.
ETS reforms, as set out by the UK ETS Authority in July 2023, will reduce the number of ETS permits available for purchase from government by 45% between 2023 and 2027. It will also extend the scheme to cover emissions from domestic maritime and energy from waste in 2026 and 2028 respectively.
The government also seeks to create more certainty for investors in low-carbon infrastructure by extending the critical national priority designation for nationally significant low-carbon energy projects.
Alongside this, the government will look to remove unnecessary planning constraints by accelerating the expansion of EV charging infrastructure and will consult on amending the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure the planning system prioritises the rollout of EV chargepoints, including EV charging hubs.
The autumn statement did neglect however to mention any updates on Clean Air Zone implementation, despite having supported several regional schemes in the preceding year.
Applications for the third annual CiTTi Awards, which will be held in London on 26 November 2024 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, will open March 2024. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector – and to book your table today!