Key points from the submission:
In the broadest sense, the National Infrastructure Commission has identified the right challenges.
Set against the backdrop of a growing and ageing population, the need for the UK to decarbonise and become more climate resilient, and the need to address the regional inequalities that exist, become the responsibility of infrastructure interventions.
However, outcomes cannot be addressed in silos - they need joined-up policies to improve them.
For example, net zero offers the opportunity to create the necessary infrastructure to meet carbon reduction targets, but also has the potential to create internationally competitive industries that provide local employment at a large scale and thus help to address regional inequalities.
To do this, the NIC must look at infrastructure as a complete system that is interconnected.
The challenges our economic infrastructure faces are system level and can be solved by system solutions. The second National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA2) therefore needs to be system-based and address the overall performance of our systems, not projects.
Furthermore, there will be a need to introduce, broaden, and better align user-pay funding options in the coming years.
Greater alignment between users and payers will need to be found if the government is to deliver the National Infrastructure Strategy, in particular its net-zero commitments.
There will be a need to bring the public along on the journey to net zero and develop a compelling narrative that highlights the wider benefits of net-zero infrastructure investment.
In light of trends towards greater devolved responsibility for infrastructure planning and delivery, the NIC should make recommendations for how infrastructure decision-making governance should evolve.
The NIC could provide frameworks to guide this responsibility, accountability and decision-making, enabling local government to commit to clear pathways over the long term.
With infrastructure needing to be considered on a systems basis, NIA2 should consider the governance required to deliver net-zero infrastructure.
Below strategy-setting, which will remain the government’s domain, there are myriad complex interconnected delivery challenges that need to be navigated to enable a coherent, fair, cost-effective net-zero transition.
It would be worth NIA2 considering whether an additional body is required to provide the guidance needed.
In addition, there is a need to better understand the current condition of assets and their structural integrity, the maintenance measures needed to improve their operation and resilience, as well as the impacts of new infrastructure on existing systems.
NIA2 should set out the state of existing infrastructure networks and the maintenance required to bring them up to an acceptable level that meets national goals.
ICE submission to the call for evidence on the second National Infrastructure Assessment baseline report
Content type: Policy
Last updated: February 2022