Thank you for welcoming me to Eurotunnel today.
I am particularly pleased to be able to visit you in your 20th anniversary year.
Over 330 million people have traveled through these wonderful tunnels.
To put that in context, it is more than the entire population of the United States.
This cross-channel fixed link and the Eurotunnel as its operator had a major impact on the transport and logistics industry
Not to mention the UK economy in general.
The concept of the rolling motorway with a crossing time of only 35 minutes has never been more important.
Today’s factories, supermarkets, and consumers demand up-to-the-minute precision.
And that’s exactly what Eurotunnel has been delivering for 20 years.
For 2.5 million cars a year.
For 1.4 million trucks a year
And also for thousands of high-speed passenger trains and rail freight trains.
There is something fabulous about the great engineering that makes our bridges, roads, railways and tunnels.
And let’s face it, when it comes to infrastructure, things aren’t much bigger or better than the Channel Tunnel and its supporting operations.
Even after 20 years you stand out as exceptional.
Now I want to spend this morning talking to you about why I love infrastructure so much
Why I think it’s so important to our economy.
And what the government is doing to make sure we have infrastructure for the 21st century.
But first I would like to pay tribute to two very important groups of people.
The first group is the group of people who actually built this thing.
Over 15,000 thousand men and women were employed in the construction phase of this project.
An incredible workforce that has delivered a breathtaking piece of engineering.
Unfortunately 10 people lost their lives and I think we should think about this sad sacrifice for a moment.
The second group of people is YOU.
The men and women who run a unique trading company.
You should all be incredibly proud of what you do
And what you contribute to the regional and national economy.
Now I know that your 20th anniversary is understandably going to be a real opportunity to celebrate your success.
To celebrate your success so far and reflect on everything you have done for the UK economy.
But it is also an opportunity to look forward to the possibilities in the future
And I was very happy to hear that there is enough capacity to further increase the use of the tunnels.
A further 500,000 trucks will use the tunnel annually by 2020.
And another 4.5 million passengers
And that’s good news for UK companies looking to export.
Good news for the UK public.
And good news for British jobs too.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough
Eurotunnel is now starting expansion and a major new energy project.
However, they don’t just focus on delivering ever higher numbers of passengers and freight.
You will see how this unique infrastructure asset fits into the wider infrastructure of the UK and Europe.
And the plans I’ve heard of to increase capacity at the M20 motorway exit are as ambitious as they are crucial.
These four new lanes will support the projected growth in tunnel use.
And they will also help smooth the flow of vehicles into and out of the south east of England.
I am aware that there may be problems with the ferries or unusual peak-load vehicles that operate on the M20.
And I was told that on such occasions the Kent Police must implement Operation Stack and use the M20 as a huge truck park
Which causes massive disruption across East Kent.
So expanding your approaches will really benefit the local, regional, and national economies.
It’s a great example of the collaboration between private companies and local and national government.
In addition, the plans to expand the range of routes for passenger trains through the tunnel are of great importance.
Because for every Briton – like me – looking forward to a whole host of new weekend trips opening up, it is tourists and business people from all over Europe who want to come to the UK. These new routes will also open up new opportunities for the UK economy; Improving access to some key European markets.
And anyone who thinks that the Eurotunnel is just the transport of goods and people will soon have to rethink.
Because your plan to operate a 1 giga watt power interconnector to connect the French and UK power grids has enormous potential.
I heard today how this will help the UK balance its energy supply and demand.
And it’s a great example of optimizing existing infrastructure for important new uses.
You now have 20 years of real success to look back on
With many exciting tasks!
But although there is still a lot of work to be done, I am satisfied with the progress.
We made infrastructure a key priority.
What drives me is the realization that we can only build a stronger economy by investing in our infrastructure.
If we want to build a strong, thriving economy for the 21st century
Then we need the infrastructure to support it.
And the government must lead by example.
And we have to create the right climate for companies to invest.
Research has shown that our gross domestic product (GDP) could have increased 5% each year between 2000 and 2010 if our infrastructure were comparable to that of other leading global economies.
Therefore, despite the need to address the deficit, we have prioritized vital capital investments.
Of course, the infrastructure generates short-term benefits when it is built, improved or maintained.
It requires materials and services, creating jobs along the supply chain.
And I said that Eurotunnel has 830 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs in the UK.
But the long-term effects are far more significant.
New or improved infrastructures can give people access to more and better jobs.
It can improve the choice, price and quality of goods and services for consumers and contribute to raising the standard of living.
And it can enable companies to interact with a larger number of other companies.
In short, it supports economic growth.
It is impossible to exaggerate this point.
The only way to build a stronger economy that will last.
The only way to improve the standard of living ..
that companies invest and that a significant part of these investments should flow into infrastructure.
You at Eurotunnel are a shining example of private investment.
So what are we doing as a government to ensure that our road and rail, digital and energy networks are among the best in the world?
Well, we offer high-level planning.
Helped with local planning.
And most importantly, they worked on funding.
In the area of high-level planning, we published the first National Infrastructure Plan in 2010
And we’ve updated it every year since then.
This document provides our analysis of the infrastructure the UK needs and our strategy for delivering it.
And we’re also publishing an infrastructure pipeline
Which serves as a prospectus for investors:
- Identification of the most important infrastructure requirements for the coming decades
- and warn us of supply chain capacity bottlenecks to ensure we are well equipped to meet our infrastructure needs
For example, and from my point of view, this example seems particularly relevant. Analysis of the pipeline shows that significant new tunnel capacities are required to realize key projects such as HS2 and Thames Tideway Tunnel. Together with Crossrail, the government has invested in a new tunneling academy to ensure that we build these key competencies to meet demand.
In local planning, the planning system was committed to speeding up and rationalizing.
And among other reforms in this area, we opened a new planning court just this month.
This is a special court that examines judicial reviews of large infrastructure projects
This prevents them from being held up by frustrating delays.
In 2011, when a motion reached the final hearing
It would take a little over a year on average.
This time will be halved under the new planning court.
In terms of funding, as I said earlier, the government is also prioritizing public investment in infrastructure, including High Speed 2.
Incidentally, I was very happy to travel to Folkestone on the HS1 this morning.
Another example of an infrastructure that enables economic growth.
I urge every critic or opponent of HS2 to look at the success of HS1.
But as a government, they also helped kick-start major privately funded infrastructure projects
By providing financial guarantees through our UK Guarantee Program to get them off the ground.
This plan has helped pave the way for the Mersey Gateway Bridge, on which construction will begin immediately.
And guarantees also support the conversion of coal to biomass at the Drax power plant
And the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea.
And earlier today, the State Secretary for Energy and Climate Change