Brexit group urges EIB replacement for infra

The ICE-led body, chaired by Sir John Armitt, believes EIB membership needs to be retained but wants the creation of a UK investment bank should such efforts fail.

A group of leading figures in the UK infrastructure industry have called on all parties in the country’s upcoming election to reduce the uncertainty surrounding funding of infrastructure projects following Brexit.

The Brexit Infrastructure Group, formed late last year following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, warned Britain faces a funding shortfall for its £500 billion ($644 billion; €590.6 billion) infrastructure pipeline if it loses membership of the European Investment Bank when it departs the bloc in March 2019. Some €25.1 billion of the €31.2 billion the EIB directed towards the UK between 2012 and 2016 was invested in infrastructure across the energy, waste and transport and telecoms sectors and its cornerstone investments have drawn “many vital projects” to close, according to the BIG.

With the UK election less than four weeks away, the BIG has reiterated its plea to the parties for a UK investment bank to replace the EIB. A draft Labour Party manifesto leaked this week pointed towards such a vehicle and taking energy back into public ownership, while the ruling Conservative Party is yet to release its election pledges.

“A major part of [the UK’s] success is our ability to deploy investment models that attract high volumes of private finance,” the group said in an open letter. “This is a hugely significant advantage for our nation and it is vital that political uncertainty does not undermine market confidence in the UK as a destination for investment.

“We believe the government should seek to maintain membership of the EIB post-Brexit. If this proves impossible, government should begin discussion with industry now on the options for filling this gap. We stand ready to help with this process.”

The BIG is led by the UK’s Institute for Civil Engineers and chaired by Sir John Armitt, who is also deputy chair of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission. Signatories to the letter included chief executive of Skanska UK Mike Putnam, KPMG’s chair of global infrastructure James Stewart and law firm Pinsent Mason’s head of global infrastructure Richard Laudy.