Cutting carbon emissions is but one aspect of the changes needed for the infrastructure and mode of operation of the UK (Osborne reveals deal with former Blair ally, 5 October). On the energy side, we need to increase development and installation of a variety of renewable energy sources. These need to be supported with energy storage schemes. Tidal barrages provide an obvious way to combine both opportunities. We also need to develop and use technology to improve energy efficiency. This involves both more efficient operation of energy use and the reduction in use that is not socially useful. We make many things that add little benefit to life – for instance our overpackaging of many small retail items with moulded plastic. All of this needs to be viewed in ways to make our living more sustainable in the long run in terms of the use of world resources.
• Whatever one’s political party, the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission will be welcome if it drives forward the painfully slow process of government commitment to the projects the UK needs if it is to compete, thrive and survive in a global economy. Not least among its priorities must be a renaissance in low-carbon rapid rail links around the UK and not just HS2.
The most recent government policy document on this, the national networks national policy statement (published under the highly successful 2008 regime that has speeded up planning decisions from up to 10 years to no more than six months) is unfortunately completely devoid of any named projects. The National Infrastructure Plan gives a shopping list of projects but stops short of the policy and scientific assessment needed to move them forward.
The Infrastructure Planning Commission, established from 2008, was so successful in embedding speedier decisions that by 2012 it could be embedded within the Planning Inspectorate. However, with its demise it is clear that an independent watchdog to ensure the UK is really tackling its infrastructure challenge is sorely missing.
Vice-president, Town & Country Planning Association (and former UK infrastructure planning commissioner)
• Andrew Adonis worked closely with the Lib Dems at party headquarters during the 1990s before succumbing to Tony Blair’s charms and joining New Labour. He was even, for a time, the Liberal-SDP Alliance’s prospective parliamentary candidate for West Wiltshire. Now we read that Adonis is to resign the Labour whip to work closely with the Conservative government. Where next Andrew?
• Memo to Lord Adonis in his new role as adviser on infrastructure projects: read Zoe Williams’ article on the use of quantitative easing for green and social investment (It’s fine to print money, so long as it’s not for the people, 5 October). As the dark, deflationary clouds from China and elsewhere gather, and as unemployment and underemployment are still to be found in great swaths of the country, Adonis could propose an infrastructure programme that can help deal with these threats. This would involve using QE to fund increased economic activity that protects the environment through a programme to make all the UK’s 30m homes, offices and factories energy efficient.
This decades-long energy infrastructure project would create new jobs in a vast range of skills in every part of the country. The work and business opportunities generated in every constituency will provide huge tax revenues and so calm even the most ardent deficit botherers. In short, it would be QE not just for the people, but also for the planet.
Convenor, Green New Deal group
• So Adonis resigns from Labour to manage grandiose megaprojects but notably does not resign his position on the HS2 Ltd board. Is this the moment that the Labour party will re-find Labour values and priorities in transport and confront its support for the elitist and hugely expensive HS2 proposal? Contrary to what Frank Field (Tax credits and trains can help Jeremy Corbyn outflank Tories, 4 October) says, HS2 is not a done deal. It has always been said that it requires cross-party support, and Labour opposition at the bill’s third reading would very likely derail it. This would enable Labour to redeploy the huge expenditure to implement the many higher priority improvements to commuter services and regional links, which are what ordinary people use and which offer so much better value for money.
Madeleine Wahlberg and Mike Geddes
• What a pronounced sense of irony you are developing in the way you report the news. Andrew Adonis is a pre-eminent thinker whose main policy developments for the Blair government were – wait for it – academy schools and HS2. Please clarify the loss to the Labour party for us.