Is this a golden age of infrastructure?

Heathrow airport Image copyright Getty Images

We have a long way to go before the we see the proverbial shovels in the ground - there will be legal and planning challenges aplenty to come.

However, with today's decision to recommend a third runway at Heathrow, this government has arrived at a point that its predecessors failed to.

From beating ourselves up for not building anything, we are suddenly building everything. Heathrow was chosen because of the extra boost it gives to the UK economy, but it is not the only mammoth project out there.

After a last minute wobble, the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station has been given the green light, while the biggest of them all is coming down the track fast.

Image copyright Getty Images

Construction on the £42bn HS2 high-speed rail line from London to the North is scheduled to begin next year. And that is probably not all.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has hinted he may reveal some moderate government borrowing to fund targeted infrastructure spending in his Autumn Statement next month. It is enough to make the Victorians sit up and take notice.

If projections for a fairly sharp post-Brexit slowdown in the economy next year are correct, we may need this spending boost.

Yet if these projects proceed on time, there is something else we will need: people to build it all. With unemployment close to historic lows, it is not clear we have enough.

As the Victorians did, it seems very likely we will need to look abroad to find the workers for what some say promises to be a golden age of infrastructure. And that, post-Brexit, will present a political rather than an engineering challenge.

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