National Infrastructure Commission publish first ever assessment of UK’s needs

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National Infrastructure Commission

The National Infrastructure Commission has published its first ever assessment of the UK’s economic infrastructure needs, covering the areas that are most likely to be affected for the next 30 years

The report splits into the following eight chapters which lists the National Infrastructure Commission’s advice on how to significantly improve these areas for the future:

  • Building a digital society – full fibre broadband to promote digital connectivity
  • Low cost, low carbon – de-carbonising the UK’s power sources and how to effectively deal with waste
  • Revolutionising road transport – preparing the UK for electric vehicle expansion
  • Transport and housing for thriving city regions – well designed cities that drive growth
  • Reducing the risk of drought and flooding – building resilience against the effects of climate change
  • Choosing and designing infrastructure – making better decisions to support high quality infrastructure
  • Funding and financing – delivering greater certainty and value for money
  • Next steps – a better way to deliver infrastructure

Responding to the key findings from today’s National Infrastructure Assessment – John Acres, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:

“The UK must take better and bolder infrastructure decisions to face the immense challenges and opportunities ahead.

“We need the ambition and scope the Commission has set, but crucially we need to get delivery right.

“Resourcing planning departments effectively underpins the delivery of almost every recommendation in the report, and is the only way we can get value for money from the proposed investment.

“Planners’ strategic skills in joining the dots – be it tackling climate change, increasing renewable energy output or transport planning – and building consensus can make a huge difference in ensuring investment is well spent.

“We urge the Commission to take these recommendations forward with planners at the top table, and to work with all concerned to ensure that Brexit will not adversely impact the skills base, professional standards and supply chain critical to making this vision a reality.”

Christopher Day, Senior Consultant, Ramboll Environment & Health, commented:

“The report raises concern that there is no clear long-term objective for the level of flood resilience that the government is seeking to achieve. It is suggested that the previous cost-benefit analysis approach to decisions about capital investment in flood risk management (an assessment of whether it is ‘worth’ protecting particular homes and commercial properties) is not a sustainable basis for decision-making.

“The commission has proposed a national standard so that by 2050 communities will be resilient to flooding 99.5% of the time wherever feasible.

“This is also expressed as a judgement that all properties, wherever feasible, should be resilient to severe flooding, with a 0.5 % annual probability, by 2050. It is also suggested that a higher standard of 0.1% should be provided for densely populated areas where the resulting costs per household would be lower.

“Ramboll’s experience is that flood defence assets in many areas currently offer a significantly lower standard of protection and upgrades to traditional defence assets to offer protection against a 0.5% or 0.1% annual probability event may neither be affordable or technically feasible.

“Therefore, as is recognised by the commission, the proposed national standard may necessitate a move towards a combination of measures including green and grey infrastructure, greater spatial planning and property level measures.

“We note the recommendation that the Ministry of Housing, communities, and local government and planning authorities should ensure that from 2019 all new development is resilient to flooding with an annual likelihood of 0.5% for its lifetime without increasing risk elsewhere.

“The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and government guidance on flood risk and coastal change currently uses a 1% annual probability event as a threshold for management of fluvial flood risks and it is this annual probability event that is used within the majority of hydraulic modelling studies in England and Wales.

“Therefore, were these recommendations to be adopted, significant changes to Environment Agency flood mapping and the approach to flood risk assessment may be required.”

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