LandAid debate: How to spend £50bn?

Energy security and home insulation trounced Crossrail 2 and the Thames Estuary airport to win the backing of property chiefs at a City Hall debate staged by LandAid.

Energy UK chief executive Angela Knight wooed a packed house into voting to build new power stations and insulate London’s homes ahead of new transport links or broadband improvements, insisting modern buildings like the Shard “have the potential to pull as much electricity as the whole of Colchester”.

“The growing economy of London requires more energy and more resilient infrastructure,” she said at the LandAid debate 2014, entitled How would you spend £50bn?

“New power stations need to be built, existing distribution networks upgraded, plus a continuing progress to low carbon and renewable energy sources,” she added.

Daniel Moylan, the outspoken airports adviser to the London Mayor, was the clear loser on the night, after failing to convince the audience London’s priority should be to build new airport capacity in the Thames Estuary.

Delegates voted by a wide margin to spend the money on Crossrail 2 ahead of the new airport, after shadow infrastructure minister Lord Andrew Adonis assured them the scheme needed only a public loan to get off the ground. The load could be fully repaid by private sector funding, tied principally to the increase in asset values associated with a second cross-London rail line.

However, Tech City UK head of property Juliette Morgan’s argument for new broadband infrastructure to “fibre up” not just the capital, but the whole of the UK, won over more of the audience than either of the big transport projects.

Morgan also called for more high-rise development in London to support the growing tech sector and its desire to cluster and supported Knight’s campaign to provide the energy infrastructure needed to supply the growth.