National Infrastructure Commission report

Report by Deputy President: Sue Harris, who attended a launch presentation at the National Railway Museum on 30.10.15.

George Osborne has set up the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to look at all aspects of infrastructure across the country.  The idea is that there will be assessment of needs and then long term planning, which it is hoped will have cross party support (and the make-up of the NIC reflects this – Labour Peer Lord Adonis having been appointed as the Chair of the NIC). The idea is that it would not be party political and there will be cooperation in addressing the needs of the nation and looking at requirements for the next 30 years. Mr Osborne said:

“This is all about Britain taking the bold decisions to make sure we’ve got the railways and the roads and the runways that are going to power our economy going forward. We have made a start now and there is a lot of road building and railway building going ahead, but I want to continue that…and you can’t get agreement on these things if you just try to do it as a Conservative Party or a Labour Party. So I am trying to create a cross-party consensus and I’ve got an independent chair now in Andrew Adonis…and that will help us as a nation to come to these national decisions.”

Mr Osborne said he was concerned that Britain is behind other countries in our planning for infrastructure, as there has been a failure by successive governments to plan effectively for the future, in terms of what we need for road, rail, airports, power stations and housing.  He did say although some of the funding would come from central government he did want to see investment from the private sector and businesses – particularly the direct beneficiaries of projects (which he said is what has happened with Crossrail in London).

Perhaps as he was speaking in York, Mr Osborne did make it clear that there would be priority investment in the East to West service across the north to promote the Northern Powerhouse.

The NIC is focusing on three things initially:

  • to plan to transform the connectivity of the Northern cities (e.g. high speed rail (HS3)) including increasing capacity and cutting journey times to generate the Northern Powerhouse;
  • to prioritise for future large-scale investment in London’s public transport infrastructure (such as the new north-south Crossrail 2 line linking Surrey and Hertfordshire); and
  • to ensure investment in energy infrastructure can meet future demand in the most efficient way (looking at how to optimise solutions to this problem, including through large scale power storage).

The NIC will be providing an initial report to the government before next year’s budget.

The presentation all sounded very positive and the idea seems a very good one. It will be one to watch – particularly as the findings should (and we hope it will) effect the north and the Northern Powerhouse.

More detail about the NIC can be found at the following links:

Mr Osborne was asked about the issue of elected mayors. He said it had been a pleasant surprise that there had been progress with Manchester, Tees Valley, North East and South Yorkshire. He is not seeking to impose anything on the rest of Yorkshire or force the pace – it is for the local people to bring this forward.