UK Infrastructure Chief warns against ‘lip service’
The Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission has said the UK Government must do more than pay “pay lip service” to their proposals for improving connectivity in post-Brexit Britain.
In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Armitt warned that the government must not ‘restate existing policy’ when they set a National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS) this autumn.
“Building the right infrastructure for the mid-21st century will help Britain shape a new national and global identity. One built on optimism and confidence,” said Sir John.
“The government must not deliver a weak strategy that pays only lip service to our recommendations. We don’t want to hear vague promises and a restatement of existing commitments.”
In the letter, Sir John outlined key tests which would ensure that the UK’s infrastructure strategy delivered a “genuine, shared vision for the future of the country.”
The recommendations include setting out the government’s expectations for infrastructure funding and policy up to 2050, including clear goals and deadlines.
As part of its remit, the National Infrastructure Commission is required to produce a National Infrastructure Assessment once in every Parliament.
The government can choose to accept or reject the Commission’s recommendations, but where they are rejected, the government must provide a clear reason why.
Sir John welcomed the positive steps already taken by the government, and welcomed the commitments already made as part of its plans for expanding fibre broadband accessibility.
The first and latest National Infrastructure Assessment, published last year included recommendations such as access to full fibre broadband services across the country, with government funding focussed on rural and remote communities.
It also recommended that 50 per cent of the UK’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and that the country create a truly national, visible charging network for electric vehicles through subsidies in areas where the private sector won’t deliver in the short term.
“Real change is required if we are to boost our economic prosperity and quality of life up to 2050,” he said.
“That requires the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy to be bold and transformative and commit to major changes like devolving funding for cities transport.”