Liberal Democrats pledge £100 million increase in infrastructure spending

Liberal Democrats pledge £100 million increase in infrastructure spending

The Liberal Democrat general election manifesto has promised an extra £100 billion of spending on infrastructure, proposals that would help create many thousands of construction jobs.

Among the key plans are an ongoing commitment to HS2, a promise to build Crossrail 2 in London and continuing rail electrification across the country. These commitments are similar to ones made this week by Labour, including a promise to extend HS2 to Scotland. However, the party opposes Heathrow expansion, arguing that airports like Manchester or Birmingham should be upsized instead.

The party is also proposing a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank, with £5 billion of initial money from the government and a mission to attract private capital thereafter, which will be spent on boosting housebuilding as well as other investments in more renewable energy and high-speed broadband, plus capital investment in schools and hospitals to help increase capacity and modernise them.

In addition, the party will give the National Infrastructure Commission established by the current government a new responsibility of taking into account the environmental impacts of new developments, while many spending decisions will be taken locally.

On energy, the Liberal Democrats have said they will give "the immediate go-ahead" to the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, which will use wave energy to provide power for up to 150,000 homes for over a century. Nuclear power station projects will also "play a role" in the energy mix, but there will be no public subsidies for new build. This would mean private capital must be required to fully fund proposed developments such as Wylfa and a new plant at Sellafield.

The use of green energy is a key element of the party's policy platform, and it has pledged more investment in onshore wind as well as offshore projects and tidal power, in order to raise the share of green energy in the UK to 60 per cent by 2030.  

Backing has also been pledged for the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine and other regional plans, as part of an aim to spread infrastructure spending more evenly.

The Conservative manifesto will be published today (May 18th), setting out their infrastructure spending plans.