In the third and final round of the leaders’ debates last night, Nick Clegg talked about how the Liberal Democrats would drive the recovery by creating sustainable economic growth.
Creating ‘green jobs’ and giving growth in the regions equal emphasis to the performance of the City of London is essential for a sure-footed recovery.
‘Green jobs’ refers to the creation of jobs in areas such as recycling enterprises, manufacturing of wind turbines or construction of environmentally friendly transport infrastructure. Manchester’s Metrolink extensions are an example of ‘green’ investment projects.
Incidentally, Nick Clegg was the first party leader to publicly commend proposals for Metrolink extensions as an excellent ‘green’ project, creating jobs and helping reduce congestion as well as contributing to Manchester’s air quality improvement.
There are a number of transport infrastructure projects around the North of England that are just waiting for the funding go-ahead and we would get these projects going to help secure jobs and the broader economic recovery. We have plans for a ‘UK Infrastructure Bank’ which would provide funding for public infrastructure projects such as energy supply, transport and communications, and remove these from the arena of short-term political interference.
The UK has been placed 33rd in the world for infrastructure according to the Global Competitiveness Report produced by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of British Industry has found that 70% of senior business figures consider the UK’s infrastructure to be poor; 85% consider this to have an impact on investment decisions.
We need action now to deliver increased infrastructure for the UK and a speedy transition to a low carbon economy. The demand for funding to improve and develop infrastructure will be enormous over the next decade- estimated to be in the region of £500 billion. In the aftermath of the credit crunch, Labour’s PFI model looks increasingly unattractive and simply unworkable.
Our ‘UK Infrastructure Bank’, would be independent and would provide capital, guarantees and equity for the creation of industries that contribute to the development of green infrastructure projects. The UK is lagging behind in development of green technologies despite having the skill and knowledge base for it.
We could see disused shipyards around the country producing things such as wind turbines, potentially creating tens of thousands of jobs. The closure of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight means there are now no wind turbines being produced in Britain. This is something that can be reversed to create jobs and contribute to increasing the proportion of renewable energy that we use.