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Sir John Armitt: joined-up approach vital to deliver National Infrastructure Strategy

02 May 2019

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) hosted a panel discussion at One Great George Street to discuss what should be in the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS).

A “joined-up” approach is required to deliver the infrastructure that the UK needs, according to Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

Sir John Armitt was speaking at a panel discussion, hosted by the APPGI at ICE’s headquarters in London on Wednesday (1 May). The panel also urged the government to adopt the NIC’s recommendations.

“We need to be joined-up politically,” he said. “We need to be joined-up as an industry. We need to be joined-up in what we deliver.”

The event, chaired by Vicky Ford MP, Chair of the APPGI, was an opportunity for parliamentarians and industry leaders to discuss what should be in the government’s soon-to-be-published National Infrastructure Strategy

A 'clear signal' from government

Sir John delivered a keynote address, where he reiterated the recommendations set out in the NIC’s National Infrastructure Assessment and called on the government to “set a clear signal that it is serious about giving the UK the world-class infrastructure the economy will need up to 2050”.

Responding to Sir John Armitt’s call, ICE’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Chris Richards, said: "Sir John Armitt outlined a robust call to arms today. The government should likewise set out a clear response to the challenges outlined in the National Infrastructure Assessment, including which recommendations will be taken forward, later this year.

“The Assessment was a cohesive research effort into the UK's future infrastructure requirements and built on ICE's own National Needs Assessment of long-term infrastructure priorities.

"All political parties must ensure they rely on the expert, impartial and evidence-led advice being provided by the National Infrastructure Commission as the foundation for their own approaches to infrastructure."

Attendees heard a broad range of views from the panel, which featured Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Mark Reynolds, CEO of Mace, Lucy Howard, Director of Infrastructure at Turner & Townsend, and Dustin Benton, Policy Director at Green Alliance.

Key discussion points included the need for a strategy that enables fairness, rebalances the economy, and delivers on sustainability and social value. The general consensus among the panellists was that the government should adopt the recommendations set out in the NIC’s National Infrastructure Assessment.

"In response to the publication of the National Infrastructure Commission's Assessment in 2018, the government has committed to responding to the Commission's recommendations and to adopt agreed recommendations for government policy," said APPGI Chair Vicky Ford.

"The NIS will set out the government's priority for economic infrastructure for years to come."

The National Infrastructure Strategy

In 2018, the NIC published its first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) for the UK. The NIA makes recommendations for how the identified infrastructure needs and priorities of the country should be addressed.

The government responded positively to the NIC at its Autumn Budget 2018 and promised a full response at Autumn Budget 2019 through a fully developed National Infrastructure Strategy.

At the 2019 Spring Statement, the government announced that it would be setting out further details of its Spending Review, which will have an infrastructure focus, before the summer recess.

  • Luke Driscoll, public affairs executive at ICE