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How Might The General Election Affect The Construction Industry?

Construction: Building highrise

With the UK general election taking place in less than a month, the major parties are battling it out to win votes. Construction and infrastructure development are likely to be key areas for debate, so a recent article on The Construction Index looked at how the events on the 7th May could impact the construction industry.

As the article notes, for some time now elections have represented a ‘duopoly’ between Labour and the Conservatives; but the lines between red and blue are becoming increasingly blurred, and both parties are planning significant spending cuts, which has in part led to a rise in nationalism in the UK.

There is also the overriding subject of whether Britain should remain a part of the EU, or should be a politically independent nation – something that could sway many voters. But for the large majority, the main issues are those of pay, taxes, hospitals and schools, safer streets, and so on – all of which are affected by construction and infrastructure. Here are some of the key issues in more detail:

Housing

The economic crash slowed down UK house building, which has failed to meet the target of 220,000 new homes each year. Labour chancellor Ed balls stated that the party had learned from its mistakes and would put housing construction at the centre of its economic policy if it comes to power – with a new target of 200,000 new homes built each year by 2020. To do this, they would seize land from developers who aren’t building on it, advertise new homes in the UK before overseas, and promote new towns and garden cities.

Energy

The next government – whoever that may be – will have to make the construction of power generating capacity a priority, starting with the building of EDF’s £16bn nuclear power station. This site itself is an example of the UK’s energy policy being reliant on foreign organisations, as EDF is still in negotiations with its Chinese financial backers.

A coalition government could also hinder energy policies, with right-wing parties denying climate change and left-wing parties calling for an end to nuclear power.

Transport

The next government will have to make new transport decisions in the face of fierce opposition, including airport runway capacity and the £50bn HS2 high speed rail network, due to begin construction in 2017. While both parties officially support these plans, local MPs are allowed to form their own local position to reduce electoral damage, and it’s likely that protests will heighten as the construction deadline looms closer.

In terms of airport runways, the controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow were delayed pending a review by Sir Howard Davies. Now, after three years, the decision between Gatwick and Heathrow will fall at the feet of the next secretary of state.

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