Industry reacts as PM announces general election

Rishi Sunak - image:

Industry has been reacting to Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a general election for July 4. 

Sunak has vowed to "fight for every vote" as he made the announcement in a rain-soaked speech outside 10 Downing Street yesterday (May 22), as he bids to win a fifth term in office for the Conservatives.

Kate Jennings, chief executive officer for The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), said the announcement marks “a pivotal moment for the UK”.

“We are now mobilising our plans to support members throughout the campaign,” she added. 

“We have been actively engaging with political parties to ensure that our industry's priorities and needs are clearly understood and addressed.

“We now look forward to seeing our industry's interests reflected in the party manifestos. Our members' work is fundamental to the UK's economy, and it is essential that these contributions are recognised in the policies of the next government."

Josh Bullard, director of smart energy and sustainability at Hydrock - now Stantec - said a general election was a key moment for the UK’s energy and sustainability sectors. 

“Looking ahead, it’s vital that the next government prioritises resolute and clear commitments for the UK’s pathway to net zero to tackle the climate emergency,” he said.

“We require policies that not only support net zero goals, but also establish a reliable framework for long-term planning and investment, and foster industry trust. 

“The sector is prepared to collaborate closely with the incoming administration to achieve these goals.”

Peter Hogg, UK cities director at design, engineering and consultancy services business Arcadis, said: “Arcadis, like any business, favours certainty and this is as true of our clients and market sectors as it is of us; so an early election, avoiding months of politicking and increasingly little governing, is welcome. 

“Arcadis, like any prudent business, will work constructively with whoever is in government on July 5.

“We are, however, clear on what we would like to see that government focus on. The first priority is to enable investment that will drive sustained growth. This means picking winning global market sectors where the UK can compete and win against the rest of the world and really getting behind them.

“Getting behind them means enabling a highly skilled and productive workforce, it means world-beating digital, physical and social infrastructure, it means homes and communities that people want to live in and it means a grown up dialogue between the private and public sectors on how these are delivered.

“Arcadis - and the industry as a whole - are not asking for whoever forms the new government to fund a wish-list; we are offering to work with government to create an ambitious, credible and deliverable prospectus for investment in the UK’s future; all we ask is that government takes up our offer.”

Alasdair Young, partner and global energy lead at Buro Happold, said: “The general election is a huge opportunity for the UK to drive growth in jobs, investment and ramp up efforts to meeting our climate goals. 

“We need to see a huge shift in the new government’s focus where place-based decarbonisation becomes a much higher-priority and we see a significant increase in onshore wind development. 

“Continued investment in heat pump deployment through funding and skills is essential, as well as getting heat network zoning up and running. 

“This will draw in billions in private sector investment, another crucial factor in speeding up the transition away from natural gas for heating. 

“It goes without saying that all this requires more investment in the power grid. To meet the demands of the shift to clean, renewable energy connections need to happen faster, and grid capacity needs to increase considerably.”

Muyiwa Oki, president of The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) said: "As our manifesto makes clear, we urgently need decisive action to deliver a built environment that meets people’s needs, both now and in the future.  

“Policies that usher in the next generation of social housing and establish a National Retrofit Strategy must be at the heart of this election campaign and delivered by the next government. The clock is ticking - the time to act is now.  

“All political parties must set out bold and comprehensive plans to deliver a sustainable built environment, using architects’ expertise, that strengthen communities and enrich people’s lives.” 

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of policy and market insight at the National Federation of Builders (NFB), added: “Housing and construction were not mentioned as one of the Prime Minister’s successes and unfortunately this is because housing and construction have been failed by this government.

"If Britain is to grow sustainably, its next government needs to reform planning, understanding the commercial impacts of its decision and most importantly, talk to those they will rely on to implement their promises.”

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