Keir Starmer most trusted to build infrastructure as plan to slash planning red-tape is unveiled

Keir Starmer is more trusted by the British people than Rishi Sunak to get spades in the ground and build the modern infrastructure Britain needs, according to a new poll.

The poll, commissioned by pro-growth campaign group Britain Remade, found voters backed the Labour leader 2 to 1 over the prime minister (34% to 16%) to deliver clean energy projects, new homes and transport schemes.

The findings come as Britain Remade unveils its blueprint for growth ahead of the general election on 4th July.

The plan, Back to What We’re Good At, lays out how the next government can get Britain building again.

By adopting Britain Remade’s plan, the next Prime Minister would be ready to hit the ground running to deliver new homes, better transport links and clean secure power.

The blueprint, which includes 64 policies, calls for a radical overhaul of current planning rules and regulations that slow down the building of major infrastructure, increase costs and do little to protect nature.

Planning red-tape and bureaucracy means it can take up to 13 years for an offshore wind farm to go from being an idea to generating power despite construction only taking two to three years. It means that Ukraine has installed more than 12 times the onshore wind turbine capacity than England since Putin invaded. It means Leeds is the biggest city in Europe without a tram or metro. And it means it now takes a young couple up to 13 years to save for a mortgage.

The poll, carried out by Opinium, also found that most Brits think the country doesn’t build enough.

More than half (52%) of voters said we don’t build enough sources of clean energy, while half (49%) say we don’t build enough transport links and just under half (45%) agree that Britain doesn’t build enough new homes in and around our major cities.

Britain Remade’s plan sets out a clear and deliverable path new ministers would need to take to tackle all these issues.

Clean energy

Labour plans to fully decarbonise the grid by 2030, but as the report shows they won't be able to do this unless they fix our broken planning system.

A system that means environmental impact assessments can reach 15,000 pages for an environmentally-friendly solar or wind farm. This slows down building and adds costs, all while doing little to protect nature or the environment.

To combat this, new clean energy zones should be created to speed up planning for new solar and wind developments. Already adopted by the EU and up and running in Spain, the policy speeds up clean energy projects by exempting them from having to do environmental impact assessments in special areas of low biodiversity value.

At £42bn Hinkley Point C is set to be the most expensive nuclear power station ever built, in part because EDF had to make over 7,000 design changes to meet standards from British regulators meaning it used 25% more concrete and 35% more steel, despite the same design being safely built in France and Finland.

To slash the cost and time it takes to build new nuclear power stations, British regulators should automatically approve designs already given the green-light by the US and the EU.

This would allow South Korea's APR-1400 reactor, which Britain Remade's analysis of every nuclear project built since 2000 found was the cheapest in the world, to be built in the UK.

According to Britain Remade’s polling, half (49%) of people surveyed back reforming the planning system to speed up the building of domestic clean energy projects.


Labour have said that if they form the next government their plans will spread opportunity and prosperity across the country, especially in left behind areas. But as the report shows, this won’t become a reality unless we build new fast, reliable transport links that connect people to the best jobs.

Every year for the last fifty years, Germany has electrified roughly 200 kilometres of railway while Britain has taken a boom-and-bust approach with no electrification taking place in some years. This has made electrifying our railways around three times more expensive than in Germany. Instead of building up a skills base and learning from past mistakes, Britain is constantly starting from scratch.

To bring down costs, the Department for Transport should commit to a consistent and rolling programme of investment in rail electrification. Instead of funding electrification on a project by project basis, HM Treasury should provide funding of £350m per annum for rail electrification. To speed up delivery, Network Rail should be given full business case approval powers to choose which projects to spend it on.

The Lower Thames Crossing is another prime example of why it is so hard to build infrastructure in Britain.

The new tunnel under the River Thames will relieve pressure on the extremely congested Dartford Crossing. But National Highways has spent almost £300m producing a 360,000 page planning application, and spades are still not in the ground. Norway managed to build the longest and deepest road tunnels in the world for less than that.

Planning rules should be rewritten so that key roads that are needed to relieve congestion should be given critical national priority status.


Labour plans to build 1.5 million homes over the next 5-year parliament, but as the report shows they won't be able to do this unless they unleash a programme of estate renewal and expand existing towns and cities through urban extensions.

If Britain is ever going to build the homes we desperately need, urgent action from the new Housing Secretary will be needed.

Too many council tenants live in post-war social housing that is cold, damp, and crowded. Estate renewal not only tackles these scourges, but also delivers the extra housing Britain desperately needs and slashes carbon emissions.

This can be achieved because Britain’s post-war estates were built at densities far lower than many of the country’s best-loved historic neighbourhoods.

For example, rebuilding London’s estates at modest densities could unlock over 715,000 extra new homes on top of rebuilding 540,000 social homes to a higher standard.

Incoming ministers should also learn from what works in other countries.

Under Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Labour government rewrote the planning rules in six major cities to give automatic approval to any building up to six-storeys high within walking distance of a rapid transit stop.

This policy followed a similar reform in Auckland that led to a housing boom and cut rents by a third. A similar fall in London’s rents would save a couple £6,000 a year.

The next government should mirror this and give overwhelming presumption in favour of new six-storey developments within walking distance of stations in our biggest cities where house prices are the most unaffordable. But only if there is no net loss of green space and the new homes are energy-efficient and in keeping with the local character.

Sam Richards, founder and campaign director of Britain Remade, said:

“When it comes to who is trusted to build the infrastructure Britain desperately needs, Keir Starmer has a commanding lead over the PM.

“But it is not enough for the Labour leader to be simply trusted to get building, he needs a practical plan so he can deliver on his ambitions.

“To get spades in the ground the next will need to tackle head-on Britain’s outdated planning system to unlock the benefits of cheap, clean power; warm, energy efficient homes and the transport links that connect communities to well paid jobs.

“Our plan will deliver just that. If adopted by a new batch of ministers they will have a plan that would mean they could hit the ground running on day one.”