Good morning everyone.
It’s a pleasure to join you for today’s summit.
It’s always good to return to the realities of concrete and construction.
You deliver what we plan; you make real our ambition.
It’s your industry that translates government policy into tangible benefits.
Jobs, growth, success.
It’s your hard work and organisation that we rely on to keep infrastructure projects on track.
And it’s your businesses that train and develop the workforce we need to build the transport network of tomorrow.
So thank you for the massive contribution you are making to the future of our country.
It’s a contribution that’s recognised throughout government from the Department for Transport to the Treasury and Downing Street.
And today I want to explain just how important to our national interest it is from now on.
Economic environment after brexit vote
Let’s start by setting the scene.
Many across the industry voiced concern about that future after the Brexit vote in July. We certainly face change and challenge.
But we step out to the new order from a position of strength.
We spent the past 6 years building the strongest major advanced economy in the world.
Employment’s at a record high.
And manufacturing growth is at its highest level for 2 years after surging again in September.
Against this background transport infrastructure could scarcely be more important.
So we are rolling out the biggest road programme for a generation.
The largest rail modernisation plan since the Victorian era.
We are close to completing Thameslink and Crossrail.
We are spending £13 billion on northern transport this parliament.
And overall, transport spending will rise by half.
Providing continuity to see these big projects through to completion.
Seizing new opportunities.
Opportunities for transport. Opportunities for construction.
And that’s what Brexit is – an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our future and boost our standing in the world.
A fresh start, a new order.
Brexit won’t make us inward looking.
Far from it.
It will do the precise opposite.
Outside the EU, investment in our long term infrastructure will become more important, not less.
By strengthening our roads and railways, our air and maritime links, we will show that we are open for business, ready to trade with the rest of the world.
We can stand tall and proud because our government has been bold and ambitious.
Construction starts next year.
Preparations are already well advanced.
Since May, HS2 Ltd has been running supply chain roadshows across the country.
Billions of pounds worth of contracts are available
Some of them the largest value contracts in UK construction history
With many major UK construction companies competing
Most of them teaming up with joint venture partners
Bringing with them recent experience of working on high speed rail in Europe
RIS 1 & 2
The Road Investment Strategy is no less important to our national interest.
Worth £15 billion in the current period up to 2020.
The biggest roads commitment for a generation.
With a second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2)to come from 2020.
Providing the construction industry with the certainty it needs to plan ahead.
The strategic studies for RIS2 address some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever faced on the road network.
- Northern Trans-Pennine, the A66 and A69 corridors
- Manchester north-west quadrant, the M60 from junctions 8 to 18
- A1 east of England, from the M25 to Peterborough
- M25 south west quadrant
5 of these will be reporting by the end of the year, while the M25 reporting by the end of March 2017.
Highways England will also revisit the 18 route strategies across the network, giving the construction industry a chance to have its say.
New technology and road infrastructure
Increasingly, new technologies will have a profound influence on this industry.
We are developing a charging infrastructure to support the growing fleet of electric cars on our roads.
We are reducing the cost of electric vehicles to consumers through the plug-in car grant.
Sales of cars eligible for the grant have risen by almost a third this year.
And there are now over 11,000 public charging points, the largest network in Europe.
And connected and automated vehicles will alter the nature of journeys, making them simpler, safer and helping traffic flow more smoothly.
We’ll be able to make much better use of road capacity.
The style and substance of towns and cities will change too.
For example parking will become less important as autonomous vehicles emerge as a shared resource.
To some, the concept of smart cities sounds futuristic, even distant. But it’s closer than they think, with driverless car testing already underway in Milton Keynes, Coventry, Bristol and London.
We have to be forward-thinking to anticipate the opportunities and challenges of the driverless age.
Our Modern Transport Bill will lay the foundations for future policy.
We must guarantee too that British workers, with the necessary skills, benefit.
As we introduce new technologies and invest in road infrastructure, we have another big opportunity too.
To reconsider the aesthetics of what we build.
In the post-war years, to meet the rapid rise in the number of cars, there was pressure to develop our trunk road network quickly.
Pressure that saw the principles of good design largely ignored.
We came to accept , wrongly, that roads and motorways must be necessarily ugly. So we sacrificed well-being.
The result was infrastructure which forged a disconnect between people and their environment.
Now we have a chance to improve the aesthetic of what we build for the common good.
Just consider what’s happened at railway stations like St Pancras, Kings Cross and Manchester Victoria.
After decades in which we allowed design to become sub-standard, soul sapping and drab, we’ve rediscovered that station architecture can lift and delight the senses once again.
Victorian railway infrastructure is loved in a way that modern motorways are not because structures were built according to time-honoured architecture principles, and often worked in harmony with the natural environment.
It’s time we applied these lessons and brought fresh thinking to road design too.
From motorways and by-passes to service stations and bus terminals, road architecture need not be miserable and alienating.
As new infrastructure is developed, it will be the duty of government to ensure it is sympathetic to the landscape in which it sits.
The success of all we do should also be measured by the wellbeing of those who are affected.
So I have begun to put in place changes to help us achieve those objectives.
During my previous time at the DfT, I established a Design Panel which was written-in to the Highways England licence.
The panel has a clear remit to encourage design excellence in road projects.
And I’m pleased to say that the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon road scheme is among the first to benefit from the Design Panel in its development.
This £1.5 billion scheme, which is the largest approved road project in the current Road Investment Strategy period will get under way this month.
Admittedly, it came late in its development to the newly-established Design Panel.
So the influence of the panel on the A14 has been relatively limited.
But future schemes will benefit more.
All must meet the higher standards I expect.
So roads blend in with the landscape, work with the built environment and flora and fauna, protect wildlife.
And so design adheres more closely to time-honoured architectural principles.
So to sum up.
After a summer of historic change for Britain and political change in Westminster, we will make a success of Britain’s new place in the world.
As the Prime Minister has made clear, we will be a government that brings the country together, and helps everyone in our society to get on.
Transport has a unique part to play.
Improving the links between people and places.
Bridging the economic gaps between regions.
Spreading the benefits of growth.
So we will deliver on our transport commitments.
With your help, we will seize new opportunities wherever they arise.
The construction industry has been one of the principle drivers of our economic recovery since 2010.
Now, as we embark on the most ambitious infrastructure programme for many decades, we need your expertise and effort more than ever.
Building a still stronger nation.
Making our country a better place to live.
Nourishing the common good and nurturing the national interest.