22 NOV 2023


There is an “urgent need” for the Government to provide a national infrastructure and construction pipeline, to provide certainty for the built environment sector.

That was one of the key messages from Stephen Marcos Jones, CEO of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) following today’s Autumn statement.

Jones highlighted today's Autumn Statement had been delivered after a “period of significant uncertainty for the built environment,” particularly after recent announcements on net zero and transport infrastructure.

“While much of the Chancellor's speech focused on taxes and the cost of living, we welcome announcements on engineering apprenticeships, ambitions to speed up delivery of infrastructure projects, funding for green industries accelerators, and late payments,” Jones said. 

“Further detail will be needed to fully understand the potential opportunities and a clear strategy for implementation.”

Jones added the political backdrop means that “industry still has more questions than answers”. 

“The promise of an updated National Infrastructure Strategy next year highlights the urgent need for a National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline to provide certainty on what is required and will be spent by the government over the next ten years,” he said. 

“This will foster an environment where industry can meet the nation's infrastructure needs."

Other commentator on today’s autumn statement included Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Generation.

She said: “Renewables have the power to reduce bills for all, but decades-long grid connection queues have massively slowed us down. 

“We’re over the moon to see the government finally taking the handbrake off the gridlock, which will help us bring cheaper, cleaner energy to Britain faster.   

“We’re also glad that the government is looking to ease heat pump planning rules, showing that they are serious about driving the transition to clean heat and keep UK households warm without emitting further carbon.”

She added to bring bills down even further, there is an urgent need to look at the way energy is priced. 

“Locational pricing would mean better use of the existing grid, fewer pylons in our countryside and cheaper bills for every household in Britain - it’s a win-win for all,” she said.

Brian Fitzgerald, CRO at Augury, an AI and hardware provider for manufacturers commented on the chancellor announcing £4.5bn investment to manufacturing in the next 5-6 years, with 960m for new green industry firms.

He said while the investment is welcome, sustainability is not a “nice to have”, but is very beneficial to business.

“In today's business landscape, the shift towards sustainability isn't just a trend; it's a strategic move with tangible benefits,” Fitzgerald said. 

“Going green is proving to be a wise investment for long-term financial business goals. 

“We've already seen successful transitions in the IT sector with the adoption of green data centres, driven not only by environmental consciousness but by a compelling 40% reduction in electrical bills.

“However, sustainability has an impact beyond finance, as it is also a key factor in attracting and retaining talent.”

He added modern workers seek employers committed to ethical practices and environmental responsibility. 

“It's about creating jobs aligned with employee values, reducing waste, and optimising processes, making the business more competitive and appealing to a socially conscious workforce,” he said.

“In essence, sustainability has a big impact on a business and its bottom-line. 

“It's a transformative force with a lasting impact on operations. 

“As sustainability becomes part of everyday business practices, its impact will be undeniable.”

Logistics UK said there was some encouraging signs for logistics businesses in the autumn statement, but more detail was needed to ascertain whether the industry will see real change as a result.

David Wells OBE, Logistics UK’s Chief Executive, said: “The decision to make the current full expensing allowance for capital permanent is a welcome step that will support logistics businesses with long-term planning and investment. 

“Our members are keen to identify if this change will include the cost of acquiring leased or hired vehicles, as well as those purchased outright. 

“In addition, detail is needed to identify whether the move will cover the cost of installing the infrastructure required to help the industry decarbonise, as our research shows this could amount to an outlay of up to £1m per site – a prohibitive charge which will hinder the industry’s shift to net zero.” 

News that the planning system is to be streamlined has also been welcomed by the business group, which has been pressing for changes to be made to enable logistics businesses to plan more efficiently for some time. 

“Since our industry supplies every sector of the economy, it is vital that logistics is included as part of the overall planning process, not as a bolt-on afterthought,” continued Wells. 

“We will continue to press government to keep us at the heart of decision-making when it comes to business investment and development.”

He added the devil of today’s announcement will be in the detail and while there are indications that the statement could boost economic activity, members are concerned about how Freeports and Investment Zones could work for them. 

“In addition, businesses still need clarity on the support government will be providing for the transition to a net-zero economy, and we will be working closely with them in the coming weeks to ensure the best possible outcomes to keep the UK trading, both domestically and internationally,” Wells concluded.

More reaction to the Autumn Statement will follow.



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