Infrastructure shares a fate with so many of life’s essentials – if it works well we barely notice it, if it fails it dominates our existence. The networks and systems that keep this country going – from telecommunications to roads and railways, and the very electricity that powers our homes and businesses – are absolutely central to our nation’s economy and our personal quality of life.
Delivering and maintaining world class infrastructure isn’t easy. Nevertheless, over recent decades, a consensus emerged that, put simply, we in this country can do better. Over the last four or five years that view began to calcify into a popular suggestion – that we should create an expert body to offer clear strategic and independent advice to government in order to secure the infrastructure this country needs to compete.
And so rarely has the creation of a public body been as warmly and as widely welcomed as the establishment of the National Infrastructure Commission in October 2015. Experts from industry, academia, and across the political spectrum all seemed to agree that the most significant question was merely why it had taken so long.
The Commission arrived amidst great expectations. And as its permanent Chair I am delighted by the progress it has already made.
In just sixteen months the NIC has delivered 4 landmark reports, interim findings of its work on the strategically vital Cambridge-Milton Keynes-oxford corridor, and brought the National Infrastructure Assessment – a world first in size and scope – to within touching distance of its initial findings.
This is an organisation in rude health. As a new executive agency, and with new commissioners adding to the existing stellar team there is much more to come. In the coming year, the NIC will publish our first annual review of government progress against our recommendations, continue to develop the NIA as we build towards the launch of our initial Vision and Priorities, publish a report into how technology can improve infrastructure productivity and deliver our final report on the Oxford – Cambridge – Milton Keynes corridor.
So as the NIC begins a new chapter, let me reaffirm our mission. The NIC will seek to be the UK’s most credible, forward-thinking and influential voice on infrastructure policy and strategy.
And what’s more we want your help. We will be open to new evidence and ideas, and new ways of thinking. Through this website you can stay in touch with our consultations, events and projects, and what’s more you can contact our team at any time to offer your thoughts, challenges and advice.
With the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission, alongside the revamped Infrastructure Projects Authority, and firm decisions from Hinkley to Heathrow, it is clear that the UK has finally begun to get serious about strategic infrastructure planning. We have all the potential in the world – now it is time to deliver, and as the permanent Chair of the NIC that is a task I relish.