Government’s Northern Powerhouse dream will fail without investment, say industry leaders

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE'Shadow Minister for infrastructure Lord Adonis during the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) at the National Railway Museum in York. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday October 30, 2015. Chancellor George Osborne has committed to �100 billion of infrastructure investment by 2020, vowing to put it at the heart of a spending review aimed at "delivering security". See PA story POLITICS Infrastructure. Photo credit should read: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE'Shadow Minister for infrastructure Lord Adonis during the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) at the National Railway Museum in York. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday October 30, 2015. Chancellor George Osborne has committed to �100 billion of infrastructure investment by 2020, vowing to put it at the heart of a spending review aimed at "delivering security". See PA story POLITICS Infrastructure. Photo credit should read: Dave Higgens/PA Wire

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The Government’s vision for the North as an economic powerhouse will not be realised without investment in areas such as the Tees Valley.

That’s the message from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) which has given its response to the National Infrastructure Commission consultation on connecting northern cities.

And while much of its message relates to major centres such as Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield, there is also a call for investment in the A19 and in the port industry including the Tees Valley.

In a letter to Lord Adonis - the head of the National Infrastructure Commission which is examining the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs - ICE officials said: “With a growing workforce and increased investment in innovation and skills, the North could play a vital part in boosting the nation’s poor productivity levels.”

ICE bosses backed the series of mission statements made by the Transport for the North group and highlighted how the North’s airports, rail links, a free-flowing road network, all needed improvment.

The letter added: “The priorities for investment should be those schemes that address the current and future ‘gaps’ in achieving these vision statements.”

ICE wants improvements to the strategic road network for the North’s key assets, such as the A19, A63, A180 and the M56.

It wants better road links to make the most of North ports including Teesport.

To back up the argument, ICE highlighted how the North East was already a powerhouse for British industry.

“In 2014, the North exported goods worth £55.2 billion in 2014 and imported goods worth £54.2 billion. This positive balance of trade is entirely due to the North East, which is the only English region that exported more than it imported,” said the letter to Lord Adonis.

ICE panel chairman Richard Threlfall said: “The growth opportunity for the North of England is huge, but it will simply not fully prosper as a one economy without significant improvements in connectivity.”