On 3rd July Sir John Armitt published the final report of his independent review of infrastructure ). This updated report contains the result of the consultation with a range of individuals and organisations experienced in the promotion, funding and delivery of UK Infrastructure.
The report calls for the establishment of an independent National Infrastructure Commission to identify the UK’s future needs looking out 25-30 years and monitor the plans developed by governments to meet them. The Commission would be expected to work in a targeted and efficient manner with value for money being a primary consideration.
Sir John argues that a new approach is required to prepare the country for the big challenges ahead such as population growth and climate change. The review examined the difficulties of successive governments in making long-term decisions under the current arrangements.
The review makes the following five core recommendations in relation to achieving cross party support in decision making in the key sectors of energy, transport, water, waste, flood defences and telecommunications needs:
- A new independent National Infrastructure Commission to look 25-30 years ahead and set priorities
- This National Infrastructure Assessment would be carried out every 10 years
- A Parliamentary vote on the evidence based infrastructure priorities within six months of the reports publication
- Within 12 months of this vote Government Departments would have to form detailed 10 year sector infrastructure plans (SIPs) of how they will deliver and fund work towards these priorities
- Parliament would then vote on these plans 10 year plans. The National Infrastructure Commission would then scrutinise these plans and report annually to Parliament on their delivery.
Draft Bill and implementation Plan
Along with the updated report Sir John has also published for consultation the first draft of a bill (written by Robbie Owen of Pinsent Masons) on how the structure and membership of the National Infrastructure Commission and the parliamentary framework within which it would operate could be established. The bill describes the powers of the Commission, funding, appointments and terms of reference.
He has also issued a summary of the steps necessary to deliver it as illustrated below in figures 1 to 3. To accelerate the process he advocates a shadow commission is established after the second reading of the bill.
Figure 1: Appointment of Commission members and staff within the first year of the Parliament
Figure 2: Preparation and approval of the National Infrastructure Assessment
Figure 3: Preparation and approval of SIPs
Sir John welcomes comments on these two documents from all stakeholders by 31st October 2014 with the aim of producing his final proposals including a revised draft bill by the end of January 2015.
This looks like a sensible proposal to enable longer term planning of the UK’s infrastructure needs. If adopted it should lead to higher growth over the longer-term with more opportunity for the supply chain to plan (and invest) for the future work load. On 3rd September Robbie Owen of Pinsent Masons hosted a breakfast discussion featuring Sir John. He stated that the consultation on the draft bill is open until the end of October. All feedback is welcome and will be used to update the Bill by the end on January 2015. An interesting further comment which he made was that the Olympics was essentially a ‘crisis’ and so decision making was easy and fast.