Think tank calls for clean air focus in infrastructure spending

Clean air must be enshrined in future infrastructure spending decisions, according to a leading think tank.

In a new report – A Modern Transport Infrastructure Strategy – Localis argues that any future transport investment decisions made by central government should be geared towards helping areas of the country affected by industrial air pollution and low economic growth.

The report also calls on various Whitehall departments, including Defra and BEIS to pool their resources and work together in areas such as electric vehicles.

It also argues that strategic authorities – such as combined authorities or county councils – should take greater responsibility for delivering clean growth by attracting long-term private capital investment, exploring asset recycling schemes with major institutions such as pension funds to unlock fresh capital funding for infrastructure investment.

In addition, the report argues the public sector should actively to promote the agenda for clean air infrastructure through procurement,

Furthermore, the report calls for strategic authorities to harness the potential of public and private sector data to optimise existing infrastructure use.

It claims ‘Big Data’ could help localities better plan future transport schemes to become more effective, evidence-focused interventions that are regionally responsive and support liveability in local areas.

‘Public and private investment in the repair and renewal of vital local infrastructure is crucial for our national prosperity and liveability,’ said Localis chief executive, Jonathan Werran.

‘To break the logjam, a positive case must be made for creative as well as sustainable approaches to financing the common physical assets upon which both our own and future generations will rely upon to connect people to places.

“Local leaders must take a punt on clean growth using all means at their disposal – fiscal, economic and regulatory – to deliver world class infrastructure to their areas,’ added Mr Werran.

‘But without the allocation of sufficient central government resources and the coherent connection of disparate Whitehall policy strands, we risk leaving left-behind areas further behind.’

The full Localis report is available to read here.