The UK will face gridlock on the roads and ever worsening air quality unless the government tackles the country’s creaking infrastructure, according to the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
It also said fuel duty needed to be overhauled and road pricing looked at again, despite a public backlash when it was last mooted.
Lord Adonis, NIC chairman, said the current state of the country’s infrastructure could hold the UK back and that a long-term plan was needed to tackle the three ‘C’s: congestion, capacity and carbon.
He said: “We have a proud history in this country of delivering world-class infrastructure - but for years funding has been squeezed, policy decisions have been erratic and the network is showing signs of age and strain.”
In a consultation launched today, the NIC pointed out that revenue raised from fuel duty was not sustainable: “A modern system of road pricing would lead to quicker, more reliable journeys and reduce the cost of delays,” it said.
“In 2006, the independent Eddington Transport Study estimated the economic benefits could be as high as £28bn annually, far outweighing any implementation costs.
“The most recent attempt to start a national debate on road pricing led to significant public opposition, but the case for it is different today.
“Government revenue from fuel duty, paid on sales of petrol and diesel, will have largely disappeared by 2050. Without some form of pricing, traffic will increase as government revenue falls.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “People in the North of England have been promised a Northern Powerhouse and now the government needs to commit the investment that will make it a reality.
“People up here have put up with second class rail for far too long whilst our motorways and roads are gridlocked.”