The National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) published today provides analysis of the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outlines a strategic vision over the next 30 years and sets out recommendations for how identified needs should be met.
The NIA has been produced by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) which undertakes in-depth studies, compiles evidence and makes recommendations to the Government as to what infrastructure should be developed to 2050. Its role is to hold Government to account and to monitor those recommendations made, to ensure delivery. The NIA is published once every five years.
The NIC is provided with a fiscal remit of 1-1.2% GDP when directing where funding should be utilised to build and operate the UK's most needed projects.
The five infrastructure priorities of the NIC are water, energy, flood, digital and transport. The Government has committed to laying the NIA before parliament and to respond to its recommendations within six months, with a final deadline of a year.
Jennifer Holgate of WBD (UK) LLP is a member of the NIC's Young Professionals Panel – the only lawyer within the commission.
Download our infographic to discover the NIA recommendations or click the accordion.
Building a Digital Society
The government should put in place a "national broadband plan" by the end of this year with the aim of providing nationwide "full fibre" connectivity by 2033. Full fibre will need to be subsidised in rural locations.
Low Cost, Low Carbon
Government should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond Hinkley Point C before 2025. Renewable energy should be prioritised as a safer investment with cost reliability.
Revolutionising Road Transport
Stronger government support for electric and driverless vehicles, including a "core network of fast or rapid chargers" to be "installed in visible locations across the UK". Government should subsidise charging points where the market will not initially build them (i.e. rural locations).
Transport and Housing for Thriving City Regions
The next priority after schemes such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse must be integration of the urban transport network within cities and urban areas, to develop "integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing". Transport initiatives backed up by "stable, substantial, devolved funding" and implication that powers will be devolved further to cities.
Reducing the Risks of Drought and Flooding
A long term strategy for flood protection is required and prioritising the targeting of a higher level of resilience in the water system. A national standard should be set for resilience to flooding with an annual likelihood of 0.5 per cent by 2050, where feasible.
Choosing and Designing Infrastructure
A new infrastructure design group will be established by the NIC, to set principles for design and drive up quality of infrastructure design as a whole. A recommendation that it is a requirement for all NSIPs to include a design panel, which will have regard to those design principles.
Funding and Financing
Financing considered both with and absent EU funding but main recommendation is maintaining access to the European Investment Bank. Government should give local authorities powers to levy zonal precepts on council tax, where public investments in infrastructure drive up surrounding property values by 2021 and get rid of pooling restrictions in s106 agreements in all circumstances through secondary legislation in 2020. The NIC recommends strengthening the compulsory purchase regime.