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The government’s “stop-start” decisions are harming confidence among logistics and transport businesses

Industry bodies across the logistics and transport sectors have urged the government to commit to a plan that “endures across political cycles” amid criticism that it is making short-term decisions in the run-up to a potential election next year.

Groups including Logistics UK, the UK Warehousing Association and the British Ports Association wrote to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Monday asking for a “new approach to strategic transport infrastructure decisions” amid a series of u-turns on key proposals such as HS2 and net zero.

The letter was sent ahead of Hunt’s Autumn Statement, which will take place on 22 November.

“Transport plans cannot continue to be made in political cycles and stop-start decisions increase costs and harm business confidence,” it read.

“A clear and consistent investment pipeline, with transparency for business, will make sure that the right skills and resources are in place to deliver for the UK economy.

“If public investment is to be secured to support key infrastructure projects, we urge the government to be open-minded and imaginative in proposing policies that unlock private investment.

“There is still no clear policy on funding for infrastructure, or private finance to support it, and this must be addressed.

“Decisions made today have enduring consequences, both for consumers and businesses.”

Food logistics businesses have previously vocalised their concerns over Rishi Sunak’s decision to delay decarbonisation targets across the sector.

Equally, trade bodies hit out at the government last week for scrapping the Manchester leg of HS2, arguing it would hinder plans to shift freight from road to rail.

The Grocer recently revealed that a coalition of food industry businesses were working together to move thousands of tonnes of deliveries from trucks to trains in efforts to slash carbon emissions.

“After the sudden government announcement in October to scrap HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester, with no consultation, the UK badly needs to find a way to convince businesses and investors that we can commit to and deliver major infrastructure schemes,” said Railway Industry Association CEO Darren Caplan on Monday.

“Long-term planning is more vital than ever,” he added, urging the government to use the upcoming five-yearly National Infrastructure Commission assessment – which looks at the UK’s long-term needs across different infrastructure areas – to set up “credible commitments” that go “beyond political cycles”.

UK Warehousing Association CEO Clare Bottle also noted the rise of e-commerce had driven demand for more space closer to centres of population, and that investment in residential development “must go hand-in-hand with the necessary investment in freight infrastructure that will enable the industry to continue to deliver goods to businesses and consumers sustainably”.

Meanwhile, the British Ports Association said that “having good-quality road and rail links to our international gateways and regional hubs” was vital to improving Britain’s trading capability as well as moving towards net zero.

The National Infrastructure Commission’s assessment is due to be published tomorrow, 18 October.