The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has today published its first-ever assessment of UK infrastructure and has stated that Britain has a “golden opportunity” to switch to greener ways of providing energy to homes and businesses
This National Infrastructure Assessment makes recommendations for how the identified infrastructure needs and priorities of the country should be addressed. It covers a variety of sectors including transport, digital technology, waste, flood management, water supplies and the energy network. The government will be required to formally respond to the recommendations made.
The National Infrastructure Assessment includes a range of recommendations, including on:
- Low carbon energy – making a switch to low-carbon and renewable sources for both the country’s power and heating, combined with a move towards electric vehicles, would mean the customer of 2050 would pay the same in real terms for their energy as today
- Digital technology – that the Government devise a National Broadband Plan by Spring 2019, to deliver full fibre connections across the whole of the country, including those in rural areas – this should ensure that the technology is available to 15 million homes and businesses by 2025, 25 million by 2030, and all homes and businesses by 2033
- The future for the nation’s roads – that the Government work with councils and private companies to deliver a national network of charging points for electric vehicles and ensures that the impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles are taken into account when planning for the next rail control period and road investment strategy;
- Encouraging growth of cities – that Metro Mayors and city leaders develop and implement long-term strategies for transport, employment and housing in their areas, to support economic growth, with new powers and devolved infrastructure budgets. The National Infrastructure Assessment’s spending plans include funding for projects including Crossrail 2 in London, and Northern Powerhouse Rail linking the major Northern cities, and recommends a boost in funding for major cities totalling £43 billion to 2040, with cities given stable five-year budgets, starting in 2021;
- Tackling floods – that the Government should put in place a long-term strategy to deliver a nationwide standard of flood resilience by 2050 with funding for flood risk management increasing significantly over the coming decades
- Cutting waste – that new national rules for what can and cannot be recycled be introduced, with restrictions on the hardest-to-recycle plastics, aimed at increasing rates and reducing the number of plastics going to incinerators. This would also mean that all food waste is separated making it available to create biogas, so it can be used to heat people’s homes and potentially as a transport fuel.
The National Infrastructure Commission was set up by government in 2015 as an attempt to take the politics out of infrastructure planning.
NIC Chair civil engineer Sir John Armitt said: “Whether it’s electric or driverless cars, new energy sources, tackling the risk of climate change or preparing for the newest and fastest broadband speeds, the issues we’ve been considering profoundly affect people’s everyday lives. The whole purpose of the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment is to think beyond the technologies of today and to ensure we can make the most of future innovations. It’s why it’s not just a one-off but something we will be repeating every five years to ensure we remain on the front foot.
“This is not some unaffordable wish-list of projects: it sets a clear direction for how to meet the country’s future infrastructure needs, and makes a realistic assessment of what can and should be delivered within the stated aim of ministers for steady and continued investment over the coming years. I therefore look forward to the government’s response to our report, and seeing how our recommendations can become reality.”