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RTPI: We must get infrastructure delivery right

10 July 2018

The National Infrastructure Commission has published today key findings from its National Infrastructure Assessment – the first ever for the UK.

Resourcing planning departments effectively underpins the delivery of almost every recommendation in the report, and is the only way we can get value for money from the proposed investment. 

The assessment spans a range of sectors including transport, digital technology, waste, flood management, water supplies – and the energy network.  It provides recommendations for delivering improvements to the country’s infrastructure network up to 2050.

John Acres, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:

“The UK must make better and bolder infrastructure decisions to face the immense challenges and opportunities ahead. We need the ambition and scope the Commission has set, but crucially we need to get delivery right.  Resourcing planning departments effectively underpins the delivery of almost every recommendation in the report, and is the only way we can get value for money from the proposed investment.

“Planners’ strategic skills in joining the dots – be it tackling climate change, increasing renewable energy output or transport planning - and building consensus can make a huge difference in ensuring investment is well spent.  

“We urge the Commission to take these recommendations forward with planners at the top table, and to work with all concerned to ensure that Brexit will not adversely impact the skills base, professional standards and supply chain critical to making this vision a reality.” 

Alongside measures for delivering a low cost, low-carbon energy system, the Commission’s recommendations include:

  • Digital technology – that the Government devise a National Broadband Plan by Spring 2019, to deliver full fibre connections across the whole of the country, including those in rural areas – this should ensure that the technology is available to 15 million homes and businesses by 2025, 25 million by 2030, and all homes and businesses by 2033
  • The future for the nation’s roads – that the Government work with councils and private companies to deliver a national network of charging points for electric vehicles and ensures that the impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles are taken into account when planning for the next rail control period and road investment strategy;
  • Encouraging growth of cities – that Metro Mayors and city leaders develop and implement long-term strategies for transport, employment and housing in their areas, to support economic growth, with new powers and devolved infrastructure budgets.  The National Infrastructure Assessment’s spending plans include funding for projects including Crossrail 2 in London, and Northern Powerhouse Rail linking the major Northern cities, and recommends a boost in funding for major cities totalling £43 billion to 2040, with cities given stable five-year budgets, starting in 2021;
  • Tackling floods – that the Government should put in place a long-term strategy to deliver a nationwide standard of flood resilience by 2050 with funding for flood risk management increasing significantly over the coming decades
  • Cutting waste – that new national rules for what can and cannot be recycled be introduced, with restrictions on the hardest-to-recycle plastics, aimed at increasing rates and reducing the amount of plastics going to incinerators.  This would also mean that all food waste is separated making it available to create biogas, so it can be used to heat people’s homes and potentially as a transport fuel

Read the Commission’s full assessment here.