The UK must take decisive action to have world-class infrastructure

Infrastructure can inspire confidence and growth. But long term projects require a long term vision, lasting plans, and stable funding.

Too often, the delivery of the UK’s major infrastructure projects has been slow and uncertain. Airport expansion in the south east is the best known, but not the only, example. The Mersey Gateway Bridge, which opened in October 2017, was proposed in 1994. Crossrail, due to open this year, was originally proposed in 1974. Consequently, much of the country’s infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth, demand and advances in technology. The UK must stop running to stand still.

The National Infrastructure Commission was set up to address the problems with long term infrastructure planning in the UK. This first National Infrastructure Assessment builds on the analysis in the Commission’s interim report, Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for national infrastructure, to set out a long term vision for high quality, good value, sustainable economic infrastructure for the UK, and a clear plan to achieve it.

Its core proposals include:

  • nationwide full fibre broadband by 2033
  • half of the UK’s power provided by renewables by 2030
  • three quarters of plastic packaging recycled by 2030
  • £43 billion of stable long term transport funding for regional cities
  • preparing for 100 per cent electric vehicle sales by 2030
  • ensuring resilience to extreme drought through additional supply and demand reduction
  • a national standard of flood resilience for all communities by 2050.

It also highlights the most important future challenges. Heating must no longer be provided by natural gas, a fossil fuel. The UK must prepare for connected and autonomous vehicles. These need more time for evidence or technology to develop. The Assessment sets out the actions needed to enable robust decisions to be taken in future.