A closer look at the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Yesterday, Government published its plan bringing together all of the government’s infrastructure priorities for the next five years. ICE’s Public Affairs Manager Alex Green-Wilkes takes a closer a look at what’s in it.

The National Infrastructure Delivery Plan was launched at ICE on Wednesday 23 March
The National Infrastructure Delivery Plan was launched at ICE on Wednesday 23 March

The National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-2021 (NIDP) is the first infrastructure plan since the new Government came into office and it certainly sets a fresh tone.

The plan has evolved steadily since 2010, and this new iteration builds on the progress made, improving visibility for the supply chain and investor community.

The use of the word ‘delivery’ in this updated plan is apt, and is perhaps the greatest difference between this plan and previous iterations – and no doubt a direct consequence of the recent merger of Infrastructure UK and Major Projects Authority into the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA).

The new focus on helping to improve the delivery and performance of infrastructure projects, in particular by considering the interdependencies of our networks and their future resilience, is certainly welcome.

The IPA proposes to help do this by more rigorous prioritisation and testing of project objectives, improving the infrastructure planning system and reducing the cost of infrastructure through improving project initiation, procurement and delivery, and sharing performance data, innovation and best practice across projects and sectors.

Another key difference between this and previous plans is the inclusion of large-scale housing and regeneration projects and social infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and prisons.

Headlines

What else are the key headlines?

  • Public capital investment of over £100bn is committed to 2020-21
  • The total pipeline comes to £425bn investment in over 600 infrastructure projects and programmes
  • £297bn of this will be spent on projects and programmes to 2020-21
  • 50% of the pipeline will be delivered through private investment
  • Priority investments will be selected based on the following criteria:
    • They are nationally significant and deliver substantial new or replacement infrastructure of enhanced quality, sustainability and capacity
    • They have the potential to drive economic growth or unlock significant private investment
    • They make a significant contribution to the government’s strategic objectives
  • The plan will report annually on its progress, starting in 2017

Investment

What isn’t immediately obvious in the headlines is that there is a decrease of £87.1bn from the 2014 plan to this new report. This is mainly due to a decrease in energy (£54.5bn) and transport (£18.6bn). While this is not explained in the plan, it could be, in part, due to us being one year into investment plans in both energy and transport. However, there has been cancellation of some energy projects.

Most interesting of all is the shift in ratio of private/public funding since 2014. It was 65% private in 2014, but that now stands at 52%.

National Infrastructure Commission

The plan stipulates that future documents will also articulate and report on how the government is taking forward recommendations arising from the National Infrastructure Assessment, which the National Infrastructure Commission will produce once every 5 years.

The role of the commission in setting out the UK’s long term priorities is vital, and this long term vision must be underpinned by a robust evidence base.

That is why ICE is collaborating with a coalition of leading organisations to produce an independent ‘National Needs Assessment’. It will culminate in a report – a vision for UK infrastructure up to 2050 – to be published in the autumn, and provided to the commission to support its own needs analysis.

This assessment, alongside the National Infrastructure Development Plan, will ensure we have a suite of tools that will make the provision and delivery of our infrastructure stronger and more robust for generations to come.

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