The UK’s second National Infrastructure Assessment will be published in the second half of 2023 and consultation and analysis to inform its recommendations will commence this autumn, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has confirmed.
The commission’s corporate plan for the next three years, published today (30 April 2021), sets out the process it will follow to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations to help the UK prepare for the challenges and opportunities of future decades.
The project will begin with publication of a baseline analysis of the current state of each of key infrastructure sectors. This data-led analysis will be published in the autumn, alongside the NIC’s proposals for the strategic themes and main priorities it intends to explore in the next assessment.
The commission will then undertake wide engagement on these topics, supplemented by a range of data collection and analysis to inform its final report and recommendations to the Government in 2023. The corporate plan notes that this will include considering potential scenarios for long term behaviour change as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The commission is planning future engagement with industry bodies, business, not for profit organisations and the general public in its efforts to capture a broad picture of the country’s infrastructure needs for 2050 and the measures needed to address them.
The whole process will be supported by expert panels of industry specialists, academics and regulators who will assess and challenge the commission’s emerging thinking. Members of the three expert panels – on net zero, levelling up and climate resilience - have been announced today.
Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “The first National Infrastructure Assessment heavily influenced government’s recent National Infrastructure Strategy and has received wide international interest. As we embark on preparing the next assessment we will build on the broad approach to engagement we undertook for the first such report, and of course bear in mind developments in the policy and technological landscape since 2018, as well as the potential long term impacts of Covid-19. The commissioners and secretariat are eager to begin the process to help ensure the UK’s infrastructure can be ready to support our society and economy in 2050 and beyond.”
Producing a National Infrastructure Assessment every five years is one of the NIC’s core responsibilities set out in its charter with government, and its first such report, published in 2018, heavily influenced the government’s recent National Infrastructure Strategy. Government has adopted, or partially adopted, 80% of the commission’s extensive recommendations, including steps to introduce more renewable energy sources onto the electricity grid, a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and the creation of a national infrastructure bank.
Other areas where the commission has helped shape government policy since its first assessment is the subsidisation of connecting the hardest to reach 20% of UK premises to gigabit broadband, and increased funding for flood resilience.