Stantec’s UK colleagues share views on the Autumn Statement
11/23/2023 UNITED KINGDOM TSX, NYSE:STN
11/23/2023 UNITED KINGDOM TSX, NYSE:STN
The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday outlined a number of proposed changes to the planning system, decisions around green energy infrastructure, news on investment zones, and a focus on greater regional development. The statement aimed to set out a plan to unlock growth and productivity.
Colleagues at Stantec, a global leader in sustainable design and engineering, shared their thoughts on the Autumn Statement from across the UK side of the business.
“Running through this year’s Autumn Statement was an ambition to meet the UK’s potential to become a green energy and advanced manufacturing superpower”, said John Ord, UK and Ireland Energy business director.
He continued: “These are sectors we’ve long known can drive growth and where we are well placed to succeed – but there have traditionally been significant barriers, from access to grid capacity and challenges raising finance and investment, to fundamental questions over the government’s commitment to transforming the UK’s energy and sustainability industries.
“The Chancellor has aimed to grow confidence by tackling these concerns – and our sector will welcome the commitment to improve the planning system, financial support for green industries and renewable energy, and generally more long-term, cross-department strategic thinking. It will now be essential to lock in this positive progress, work as a sector with government to develop the details of the long-term strategy, and secure commitment that this will be maintained and supported by current and future administrations.”
Reacting to details on the investment zones and regional growth announcements, Stephen Cox, director of Economics and Regeneration added: “We’re certainly supportive of dedicated advanced manufacturing investment zones, so long as there are plans in place to address the possibility of displacement from elsewhere in the UK. These investment zones themselves will generate interest but we need to ensure they’re also able to attract long-term occupiers, with a package of internationally competitive incentivisation measures.
“With new zones in Wrexham/Flintshire, Liverpool, Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and across the Midlands, we urgently need a plan in place for deliverable transport projects to bring about faster and more reliable journeys that support economic growth in these zones.
“The devolution deals are interesting, particularly for the larger counties and constituent districts which can hopefully gain more access to resources and secure investment to carry out more strategic development schemes for their communities and deliver economic growth.
“We are delighted that three more of our levelling up bids, supporting the regeneration of Glasgow's Drumchapel area and Tonedale in Somerset, as well as the Three Rivers Active Tourism Project, have all been successful. We’re proud to have supported these essential projects in gaining funding which will help futureproof communities across the UK.”
Planning director, Iain Painting, also shared his views on the planning and development implications from Wednesday’s speech, saying: “Accelerating the planning system in the UK is key to delivering the infrastructure and development the country badly needs to chart the path to net zero and to boost green growth. However, as well as certainty on programme we want quality in decision making and consideration. A ‘no win no fee’-style approach to planning timescales, and the notion of a ‘pay to play’ premium planning service could both risk unintended consequences. The premium service is in danger of becoming the de-facto default service, taking resource and attention from elsewhere, while linking planning authorities monetarily to development cycles, undermining their funding during a downturn in application activity.
“A wider review of the planning system is needed to address the real root causes of problems. Local planning departments need more resources and skills, and we need more impetus to keep Local Plans up to date to provide the basis for decision making. This caution should not detract from the positive steps to prioritise new sustainable energy projects, enable grid expansion, and boost EV infrastructure. However, the gap remains of strategic planning in the broadest sense, bringing together initiatives such as investment zones into a co-ordinated and strategic long-term strategy.”
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