Crossrail, HS2, Hinkley Point C nuclear power station: three massive infrastructure projects, costing billions of taxpayers’ money, and all subject to controversial and time-consuming debate before getting the go-ahead. But were these megaprojects in fact easier to get politicians to approve than other, smaller investments in UK infrastructure and transport? That is the intriguing notion put forward by Isabel Dedring, global transport leader at Arup and London’s former deputy mayor for transport. At a recent seminar on whether bigger infrastructure projects really are better, Dedring told the audience this is often the case, politically, at least. The counter argument is that since all infrastructure projects produce protest, politicians might as well put all their eggs in a single basket. “The noise politically generated by small projects is much greater in relation to their size,” noted Dedring, in part because it’s easier to get people together to mobilise against smaller projects. “And politicians understand that.” “The ones that get threatened are those that go over-budget and are not part of a key mission and have no international collaboration,” he said. “Once you have an international project, it’s harder to kill.” One obvious example is Hinkley Point C, which is being built by French nuclear contractor EDF and its Chinese partners. The contract for the new power station was signed in September 2016 by UK business secretary Greg Clark, alongside Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chair of EDF, and He Yu, chair of China General Nuclear, who said the programme was a “triple win for China, Britain, and France” and the culmination of years of cooperation between the three countries.

Guardian 19th May 2017 read more »


Published: 19 May 2017