A new independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has been created for the UK, it was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Its purpose will be to offer unbiased analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs. Former British Labour Party politician, Lord Adonis, will lead the Commission as its first chairman.
The Commission has been created immediately on an interim basis, and will later be put into statute. It is designed to deliver a long-term plan and assessment of national infrastructure needs early in each parliament, detailing what government is expected to do over the next five years. It will be overseen by a small board, appointed by the Chancellor, and able to commission research and call for evidence from public sector bodies and private sector experts.
The Commission will initially focus on a plan to transform the connectivity of the Northern cities, including high speed rail (HS3), priorities for future large-scale investment in London’s public transport infrastructure, and how to ensure investment in energy infrastructure can meet future demand in the most efficient way. It will publish advice to the government on these issues before next year’s Budget.
The Commission will also provide an assessment of the UK’s infrastructure needs every five years, looking 30 years ahead and examining the evidence across all key sectors of economic infrastructure. These include energy, roads, rail transport, ports and airports, water supply, waste, flood defences, digital and broadband. As part of this work it will consider how investment in these sectors can support housing development.
The Commission will be made up of around 25-30 permanent staff, but will have statutory powers to allow it to draw on the expertise of the sectoral regulators, and key national delivery bodies such as Network Rail and Highways England.
The government will introduce early legislation to establish the Commission on a permanent, statutory basis.