We reported last week that George Osborne and Vince Cable were pushing for a new toll road scheme on the heavily congested A14 near Cambridge. Today, the Sunday Times suggests that road tolling will play a central role in the government’s growth review on November 29.
The paper says Osborne and Cable want £50bn from the private sector, mainly pension funds and insurance companies, to fund new infrastructure, including roads, homes and power stations. In return they will get a share of tolls, rents and energy bills.
The problem is that ministers can’t force private companies to spend their money on such schemes: all they can do is put the incentives in place for them to do so. But these carry their own risks.
The row over changes to the planning system has been both angry and loud, polarising opinion in a stark manner. On the one hand we have George Osborne, the DCLG, business lobbying groups and the property industry, all of which back the new National Planning Policy Framework.
Lined up against them are charities including the CPRE, Friends of the Earth and National Trust, who fear that the document – with its presumption for sustainable development - could provide a carte blanche for a wave of ugly developments across the countryside.