Yorkshire infrastructure “needs spending”

THE creaking state of critical services in Yorkshire is laid bare today in a new report calling for urgent investment in transport, energy and flood defences.

Despite motorway improvements, the north is 'still struggling on infrastructure'

The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) says energy supply, the local road network, waste services and flood defences in Yorkshire are “at risk” of damaging the economy.

Major roads and rail are given a higher “need attention” rating while water is the region’s only part of Yorkshire’s infrastructure deemed “adequate for now”.

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David Tattersall, ICE Yorkshire and Humber’s regional director, said: “Yorkshire and Humber arguably punches below its weight in economic terms and its potential can only be unlocked through more and better infrastructure investment, and importantly, clearer strategic thinking and decision making.

“This is the case for all infrastructure sectors, but our transport network is a particular concern.

“While there have been some positive steps forward, such as the delivery of the M62 Smart Motorway, progress on the M1 and the Northern Hub projects and the formation of a Combined Authority in West Yorkshire, we are still falling short when it comes to connectivity.

“The benefits to regional economies of improved connections and reliability are well-recognised but we must get this right.”

Transport problems are identified as one of the biggest brakes on the regional economy in the report with transpennine rail services, congestion in Yorkshire cities and substandard connections to airports and ports all highlighted.

The ICE report calls for a fresh look at whether the Woodhead line between Sheffield and Manchester could be reopened and calls for a fresh look at the locations for the proposed high speed rail stations in Leeds and Sheffield.

The report warns there are at least 100,000 homes in the region at risk of a one in 100 year flooding event and says better maintenance of waste water networks is needed to ensure they are not overwhelmed.

And it says that the proposed closure of Kellingley Colliery willleave the region’s power stations dependent on imported fuels coming in via seaports and rail links.

A government spokesman said: “A key part of the government’s long term economic plan is ensuring the UK has the infrastructure it needs to compete. The ICE report states annual infrastructure investment is higher on average in this parliament than the previous one.

“However, the job is not yet done, which is why we have committed to long-term funding settlements in key sectors such as roads and flood defences.

“We’ve committed to spend more than £70 billion up to 2021 in all forms of transport, with councils receiving £10 billion for local highways maintenance over this parliament and the next. We have also introduced the biggest reforms to the energy market since privatisation.”