Monday, June 17, 2024

Broad coalition of public and private bodies back Commission’s vision for infrastructure – NIC

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The Second National Infrastructure Assessment, published today, has already attracted broad support from a range of membership and representative bodies, as well as experts from across the sectors in the Commission’s remit.

A selection of comments can be found below. The Commission is grateful to all of the many organisations it has consulted during the formation of the Assessment.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The Commission has worked closely with the West Midlands Combined Authority in developing its independent Assessment and we now look forward to working with them to ensure Government takes forward its recommendations.

“Building a world class transport system that connects local people to a plethora of opportunities is one of our region’s key priorities. The Commission’s endorsement of the economic case for transforming local public transport is both timely and welcome.

“Local leadership – armed with devolved funding – can play a major role in leading on the delivery of the long term infrastructure our nation very much needs. Whilst local leadership must of course be appropriately empowered – especially when it comes to regional infrastructure – inter regional connectivity requires national leadership to drive the infrastructure investment that will supercharge our productivity in the months and years ahead.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “I welcome the Commission’s latest assessment, which is a timely reminder of the need for a coherent, long-term investment plan that is focused on delivering for our people, places and environment.

“If we are to deliver the revolution in transport, energy and housing that our residents deserve, then we need more powers and funding to unlock our growth and to deliver a carbon neutral future. And it is good to hear the Commission once again advocating for both.

“The recommendations around capital and revenue funding support to improve public transport capacity in the North, but particularly in Greater Manchester, should be given serious consideration by the government, if we truly want to deliver a fairer, greener and more connected country.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “It’s fantastic to see this recognition of how important investment in transformational public transport infrastructure is to the future of our region.

“We have an ambitious plan for a mass transit system that will serve the whole of West Yorkshire — connecting its important places, tackling climate change and unlocking economic growth across the region and the entire country.

“I hope the report’s recommendations are studied closely by the Government and would urge it and any future administrations to provide the certainty and funding to make them a reality.”

Seb Dance, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “London is the engine of the UK economy. When London succeeds our whole country benefits, and long-term funding from the Government is crucial if we are to deliver the vital improvements that our transport network needs to support both London’s and the whole country’s economic recovery. I welcome that this urgent need has been recognised in the National Infrastructure Assessment.

“We’ve seen with the transformational Elizabeth line what long term capital investment in our network can achieve, and we will continue to work with the Government on a viable long-term funding package to continue delivering the world-class transport network Londoners deserve.”

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “Poorly planned or badly designed infrastructure can destroy ecosystems and hasten the decline of nature. It is excellent to see the NIC recognise this potential for harm in the report, reinforce the case for early mitigation action, and call on Government to require key sectors to contribute to nature recovery and employ nature-based solutions across their operations.

“Ultimately, all polluting sectors will need a Nature Recovery Obligation to contribute to restoring our environment; the measures identified by the NIC are a positive step toward managing and reversing harm from necessary infrastructure development.”

Shaun Spiers executive director of Green Alliance, said: “The impacts of climate change are becoming more and more evident in the world around us. The National Infrastructure Commission rightly recognises the need for a rapid but well organised transformation of UK infrastructure.

“That will come with a price tag but will also futureproof our society, providing cheaper heating and electricity fuelled by home grown renewables, rather than imported fossil fuels with volatile pricing. It will also ensure that we are better protected against flooding, heat waves and other impacts of climate change.

Andrew Morlet, Chief Executive of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “The issues addressed and the clear recommendations laid out in this report are relevant to the future quality of life and the everyday existence of every person in Britain. They underpin the viability of the Nation economy and crucially, the natural resources and ecosystems that essential to life, and prosperity.

“The NIC should be commended for setting out the ambition and a clear roadmap for national resilience and prosperity, and for calling on public and private sector leaders to take the necessary long term decisions and to demonstrate the staying power to see them through.”

Dr Janet Young, Director General of the Institution for Civil Engineers, said: “If the UK continues its stop/start approach to infrastructure planning and fails to commit to long-term goals, it will not only miss the much-needed opportunity to attract private investment to deliver needed projects, the problems being faced by the public will get bigger.”

“Today’s National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA2) from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) reinforces the central role that infrastructure plays in meeting the big challenges that the UK faces – namely, regional inequalities, decarbonising society, and improving climate resiliency.

“Since the first NIA, good progress has been made against its recommendations. For example, there’s been tremendous growth in renewable energy. But in other areas, like reducing transport emissions, progress has been slow.

“Politicians should use the recommendations in NIA2 to keep making progress. When they do, results are visible, and people benefit. When they don’t, problems get stored up for the future.”

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Modern, reliable infrastructure is key to the UK remaining globally competitive and reaching its 2050 Net Zero target.

“But to attract the investment needed to boost economic growth, we must improve policy stability, speed up the planning system and upgrade the regulatory environment.

“More investment is needed to deliver efficient transport infrastructure that ensures predictable and reliable journey times for people and goods. The recent decision to jettison the latter stages of HS2 has sent shockwaves through the business community.

“To provide some much-needed reassurance to business, the Government must now set out a clear, stable and coherent policy on its infrastructure plans.”

Torsten Bell, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain needs to invest more to underpin its growth and net zero transition. This authoritative assessment of Britain’s infrastructure needs should be required reading for anyone leading, or aspiring to lead, the country.

“It rightly identifies the need to prioritise, in particular by supporting low and middle income households with the upfront costs of the shift to low carbon heating, and intra-city transport that holds back Britain’s second cities.

“Delivering on this scale of infrastructure development is going to require not only higher, but more stable levels of public investment than Britain has managed for decades.”

Naomi Baker, Senior Policy Manager at Energy UK, said: “Infrastructure is central to the strategic challenges facing the UK. The Commission provides clear, practical recommendations for converting ambition into on-the-ground delivery.

“Energy UK echoes the call for ‘pace rather than perfection’. Inaction has a cost, as we saw last winter with impact of the gas crisis on our leaky housing stock.

“The UK has made major changes to infrastructure before — from building the electricity ‘supergrid’ in the 1950s to constructing the strategic road network in the 1960s and 70s. The more recent revolution in offshore wind was unimaginable just 20 years ago.

“By following the Commission’s clarion call to accelerate decision making and provide long term clarity to investors, we can transform the energy sector to benefit people and businesses, decarbonise our power and boost our economy.”

Rachel Fletcher, Director of Economics and Regulation at Octopus Energy, said: “Heat pumps already cost less to run than a gas boiler, and the recommendations from this report clearly shows they are the key to unlocking a cheaper, cleaner energy system when supported by the right policy.

“By committing to NIC’s suggestions, we can attract billions in investment to this country, use tech and flexible consumer demand to drive down costs and create more savings for both homeowners and taxpayers.”

Jason Prince, Director of the Urban Transport Group, said: “We welcome the Assessment’s recognition that good transport infrastructure is vital for unlocking economic growth.

“If we really want to harness the economic value our city regions offer, it is important that they get the clarity and certainty to deliver – clarity provides the ability to plan, and certainty provides the confidence to invest.

“City regions are already at the forefront of providing public transport in their local areas – and through devolution, are the ones who should make the decisions that deliver the best for their local communities.”

Maria Machancoses, Chief Executive of Midlands Connect, said: “The publication of this report by the NIC is very timely and welcome. We echo calls by the commission for an urgent and comprehensive review of rail priorities for the North and the Midlands following government’s recent decision on High Speed 2 and the introduction of Network North.

“We also welcome proposals for the development of an Integrated strategy for interurban transport and strongly believe this overall strategy should be underpinned by the Strategic Transport Plans being developed by Sub-national Transport bodies across the country including that of Midlands Connect.

“During 2023, Midlands Connect alongside 13 other Local Authorities and the private sector secured £39.3m Government support towards the delivery of 17,461 new public EV charging points across the Midlands (by the end of 2025). This is why we recognise NIC proposals for accelerating the delivery of EV charging infrastructure across all parts of the nation.

“Now, we must work with Government to take forward the recommendations set out in this report – addressing the long-standing inequalities across the country, and our collective net zero and climate change commitments. At Midlands Connect we stand ready to address them head on.”

Jordan Cummins, UK Competitiveness Director at the CBI, said: “The CBI welcomes this report which is timely and recognises the need for major public transport upgrades in the UK’s most congested cities to unlock economic growth. It further acknowledges the need to deliver strong focus on upgrading the UK’s energy infrastructure if we are to meet our legally binding commitments to being a net-zero economy by 2050.

“Planning reform and a more agile and responsive approach to delivering connectivity of energy projects into the national grid network will be crucial if we are to achieve this. Similarly, policy stability and certainty around the delivery of major infrastructure will provide the long-term confidence and clarity businesses need to invest and drive economic growth across the UK.”

Jon Phillips, Chief Executive of the Global infrastructure Investor Association,  said: “The Government took the forward-thinking step to create the NIC. Now it must listen to the impartial expert advice it has provided and respond in a timely manner to its recommendations.

“The NIC has set out a clear path to meet the UK’s infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. It is achievable and affordable if the right decisions are made as a matter of urgency.

“The Commission highlights that the private sector will need to provide more than half the investment needed over the next 20 years. Yet for global infrastructure investors, the attractiveness of the UK as a destination for private capital has fallen since last year to an all-time low.

“It is essential that the next government places a much higher priority on making the UK a more attractive destination for investment, amidst an increasingly competitive international market.

“Infrastructure investors want a clear and stable policy environment, pro-investment regulation and speedier planning decisions. Whoever forms the next government must adopt this blueprint and put it into action. And as a matter of urgency, place a higher priority on making the UK a more attractive destination for investment, in order to attract the hundreds of billions of pounds that are available in what is a highly competitive international market.”

The Infrastructure Forum said: “The National Infrastructure Assessment shows that the task to build new energy transport and digital infrastructure for the UK is of massive proportions.

“The nation is fortunate to have in the National Infrastructure Commission an expert body with a medium and long term outlook.

“Recent cancellations of major projects, the challenges of financing others, and the need to achieve consensus on national aims are concerning. These factors all suggest that the NIC should be given more power in government to ensure that Britain defines its infrastructure aims, sticks to them and delivers them for the public”.

Andrew Baldwin, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Association for Project Management (APM), said: “Major infrastructure projects, when delivered well, create economic, social and environmental benefits. Such projects require stability in order to succeed, however. The core recommendations of the Second National Infrastructure Assessment can only be met through projects delivered by skilled professionals, along with greater policy stability and long-term planning. It is possible for projects to be rescoped and still succeed, but when projects are scrapped or face multiple significant changes, this severely impacts their ability to meet the intended need.

“Our data shows there is strong appetite among project professionals to develop their skills. This suggests a huge opportunity for government to invest in professionalisation of project management. But it’s about having the right people in place, too. There is a further opportunity to focus the civil service more on policy delivery, not just policy development. We hope Lord Maude’s imminent review into civil service governance and accountability will support this.”

Mike Maudsley, CEO of Enfinium, said: “Enfinium welcomes the recommendations of the Second National Infrastructure Assessment. As the report highlights, installing carbon capture technology on energy from waste facilities can provide vital carbon removals to support Net Zero and help communities decarbonise. That is why it is right for the Commission to call for an end to new energy from waste facilities without carbon capture, as well as further measures to increase recycling rates and remove plastic from the waste stream.”

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