Infrastructure & Planning

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is the largest and most influential Chamber in the UK and is the recognised voice of business in Greater Manchester.

Tackling issues around transport, construction, broadband, energy and planning

CURRENT CAMPAIGNS

  • HS2 - creating capacity in the UK's rail network
  • Business Broadband Campaign
  • Connecting British businesses to overseas markets
  • Energy - keeping the lights on
  • Roads - keeping the traffic moving

WHAT THE CHAMBER SAYS ...

HS2 - creating capacity in the Uk's rail network.

The Chamber believes that HS2 is the only viable solution to resolving rail capacity issues. Opponents speak of extending trains and platforms but following a costly £9.6bn upgrade that was completed in 2008 the benefits gained have quickly been removed due to a massive surge in passenger numbers and demand.

By building a brand new line this will relieve the capacity crunch on the existing line and enable more local stopping passenger services as well as increasing freight traffic thus removing corresponding traffic on the road network.

The Chamber fully supports HS2 as it will be a catalyst for growth in the UK whilst delivering a solution to a critical transport infrastructure problem.

Business Broadband Campaign.

The Chamber fully supports the roll out of an effective super fast broadband network that offers the equivalent functionality of those seen in other areas of the world. This issue affects a wide range of sectors as more business is done via the internet both in domestic as well as international markets.

To offset the prohibitive costs of installing broadband the Chamber is working with partners to identify industrial estates where aggregate demand schemes could be introduced which would allow businesses at reasonable cost to access the latest broadband services.

Connecting British businesses to overseas markets.

The Chamber encourages debate on this issue as easy access to overseas markets primarily through air travel to encourage export is a necessity. However the inability to think beyond just a south east solution is disappointing. Recognising the role that Heathrow has to play and its global importance it is right that current problems should be tackled but not at the total exclusion of other UK airports.

One major concern is the amount of time that is being taken in reaching any form of conclusion and decision on this issue with the current consultation – The Davies Review- scheduled to report in the next parliament. The UK’s overseas competitors seemingly continue with their development plans at pace whilst the Uk gets bogged down in indecision.

We have made successive calls to the Chancellor over scrapping or amending APD to make this a more fair tax. To date there has been no movement on this or acknowledgement about the scale of problems this causes.

Energy - keeping the lights on.

The whole issue of the cost of doing business is one that will dominate the build up to the next election. Just as there is a high profile “cost of living” campaign at a domestic consumer level the Chamber believes that there should be an equivalent focus on the costs that businesses face to undertake their work – energy costs being a major part of this especially for high energy use companies.

The pace of decision making and moving from discussion to action on major investment projects is not fast enough and the more that delays are made in this process the more acute any problems in the supply network become. Concerns are increasing about the future tolerance within the system with more power stations going off line and potentially greater demands placed on the network with the economic recovery.

The current prediction for the buffer between peak electricity demand and supply is predicted to be 4% in the winter of 2015 down from a previous forecast of 14%.

Due to the complex nature of the energy market and the mechanism used to formulate prices it can be difficult for business consumers to gauge the impact of price rises. Unless there is greater clarity on pricing the whole issue around energy will remain lacking in certainty.

Roads - Keeping the traffic moving.

There is no doubt that for most businesses road usage is the most immediate and tangible method of transport that they experience. “Problems” as such with roads can range from particular local bottlenecks at individual junctions to wider capacity issues on the national Motorway network.

Whilst investment in local public transport schemes such as the Northern Hub is now starting which in the future should alleviate some of these issues, the reality is that many road users are unwilling to make the switch to public transport.

Coupled with the poor state of many road surfaces following consecutive bad winters - the “pot hole problem” and there is a mix of considerable issues that need resolving to ensure that traffic keeps moving.

Investment in roads is vital and should not be at the exclusion of investment in other forms of transport. To supplement this the Chamber also feels that the planning regime should be revisited to encourage prompt decision making and action to address problems.