The Infrastructure Plan 2014 (NIP 14) was published on 2 December 2014, as part of the Build up to the chancellor's Autumn Statement.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Danny Alexander), in a Written Statement to Parliament (endnote 1) outlined the Government’s commitment to infrastructure in the build up to the last Budget for this Parliament, due in March 2015.

A summary of the new announcements in the NIP 14 in the energy sector is set out below:

COMMUNICATIONS

NIP 14 records that over 5000 SMEs across 22 cities have benefitted from the government’s connection voucher scheme, with new broadband connections on average six times faster than before.  NIP 14 announces that for more businesses to benefit, the government is allocating up to £40 million to extend the scheme to March 2016 and to more cities.  Vouchers will be available in the new cities from April 2015, and will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Further NIP14 announces a 700MHz spectrum change of use. Further details of the clearance process for high-value spectrum will be set out in 2015 ahead of a further auction of mobile broadband spectrum, subject to the development of delivery options by DCMS and Ofcom.

SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

NIP 14 records that the Government has increased capital funding for science and research in real terms to £1.1bn in 2015-16.

The Government recently consulted on proposals for long-term capital investment to 2021. It is due to publish its Science and Innovation Strategy, and full response to the capital consultation.

NIP 14 records that the Government will also continue to focus on delivery of its existing infrastructure commitments, including major science projects such as Diamond Phase III, the Pirbright Institute Development Phase 2 and the Francis Crick Institute.

Longer-term the government’s forthcoming Science and Innovation Strategy will set out the Government’s long-term objectives for the sector.

In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor confirmed £5.9bn for the UK’s research infrastructure over 2016-21. This funding will include a £2.9bn Grand Challenges fund, which will enable the UK to invest in major research facilities of national significance.  This commits £0.8bn of this to major new research facilities and projects including:

  • £235m in the advanced materials Sir Henry Royce Institute
  • £113m in big data at Hartree, Daresbury
  • £95m to take the lead in the next European mission to Mars
  • £31m in new energy security and innovation centres
  • £60m to extend the capabilities of the National Nuclear Users Facility
  • £20m for an innovation centre on ageing, in Newcastle

 The Autumn Statement also confirmed details of several further facilities: the £42m Alan Turing Centre to undertake new research into ways of collecting, organising and analysing big data, is to be located in London; and an additional £9m will be provided by Government to increase the prize fund for driverless car testbeds, enabling trials in Bristol, London, Milton Keynes and Coventry from next year.

Also included in the Statement is an additional £61m fund for High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres to meet increasing demand and provide outreach and technical support to SMEs. The Government will also provide an additional £28m for a Formulation Centre to design new products across numerous sectors by combining different gases, solids or liquids.  The final funding decisions will be taken at Budget 2015.

A £900m Grand Challenges fund will be launched to tackle the great questions and opportunities of the time.

The Government will invest £3bn in existing facilities. Over half of this will be subject to competition. An additional £200m will be allocated through the Research Partnership Investment Fund over the next Parliament by competition, drawing on industry co-funding.