We welcome today’s publication of the long-anticipated National Infrastructure Assessment. The first of its kind, and the inaugural piece in what will be a once-a-parliament event analysing the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, the Assessment sets out a clear, long-term strategy for the UK’s economic infrastructure from 2020 to 2050.
It contains big, ambitious plans, encompassing digital, energy, transport, waste and flood defences. It includes funding for projects including Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. It recommends that half of the UK’s power be provided by renewables by 2030, and calls for a nationwide plan to deliver full fibre broadband to all businesses and homes by 2033.
At a regional level, metro mayors and other city leaders are called upon to develop integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing, backed up by new powers and devolved budgets.
The Assessment provides welcome clarity for industry and the supply chain. The private sector will be an important player when it comes to investing in, delivering and managing the vital infrastructure the country needs, and no doubt the nation’s businesses will welcome today’s long-term vision for the future, not least the focus on digital and transport connectivity.
The Commission has set out bold, decisive plans for the future of UK infrastructure – what is needed now is bold, decisive action at a regional and national level, from politicians of all parties, to make the vision a reality for the benefit of us all.
We therefore await with interest the Government’s response. The Government has committed to respond to the National Infrastructure Assessment, and it will be hard for them to ignore the Commission’s recommendations, particularly as they have made those recommendations within the “fiscal remit” that government itself has set.
Of course, shaping the future of the UK’s infrastructure is not solely the job of the Commission, vital though its work is. We all have a role to play, because the nation’s infrastructure has to work for all of us. It’s the water we drink, the energy we use, the transport we rely on. As Commission Chair Sir John Armitt so rightly says, our quality of life and future economic success will depend on the ability of our infrastructure to respond to future challenges.
It is therefore essential that infrastructure reflects the needs of all communities. Coming hot on the heels of Parliament’s decision to approve plans for a third runway at Heathrow, the message about the importance of listening to those whom infrastructure is supposed to serve could not be clearer. But is this easier said than done? How, exactly, can we do this?
As we explain in our recent paper on this topic, deploying social listening alongside traditional consultation and engagement tools can enable the deepest possible understanding of the views of key stakeholders and communities. This lays the foundation for meaningful, representative dialogue and ultimately, takes us a step closer towards delivering infrastructure projects that work for all.
For more content like this, sign up to our newsletter and receive a regular roundup of news, insights and advice from Social’s team of communications experts