The government is in the process of establishing the National Infrastructure Commission ('the Commission') by legislation. In the meantime it is operating in 'interim' form, with Lord Adonis appointed as its interim chair.
The stated purpose and objectives of the Commission are as follows:
“The National Infrastructure Commission will provide expert, independent advice on pressing infrastructure issues, and produce an in-depth assessment of the UK’s major infrastructure needs on a 30-year time horizon. Its objectives will be to:
- Foster long-term and sustainable economic growth across all regions of the UK;
- Improve the UK’s international competitiveness;
- lmprove the quality of life for those living in the UK.”
The Commission’s remit covers economic infrastructure including; transport, energy, water and sewerage, flood defences, digital and communications and waste. It does not include schools, hospitals or prisons. In addition its remit does not extend to housing supply directly. However, the Government envisages that:
"the Commission will consider the potential interactions between its infrastructure recommendations and housing supply”.
The Commission, is required to publish a National Infrastructure Assessment ('NIA') once a parliament. The purpose of the NIA is to:
- analyse the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs;
- outline a strategic vision over a 30-year time horizon; and
- set out recommendations for how identified needs should begin to be met.
The interim Commission has stated that it intends to meet the obligations above by developing a NIA in two stages:
- Stage 1: Vision and Priorities: To determine a ‘vision’ of the UK up to 2050, to identify long-term infrastructure need in light of that vision and to highlight priority areas for action over the medium-term. This report will be published in summer 2017.
- Stage 2: A National Infrastructure Assessment: To consult widely on the Vision and Priorities report to inform the Commission's final conclusions on the UK’s infrastructure needs and priorities to 2050.
The NIA developed by the Commission will ensure that the recommendations made are consistent with the UK’s carbon and environmental commitments .
It is anticipated that the Vision and Priorities report will be published in summer 2017. The National Infrastructure Assessment will then be published in 2018, containing recommendations for how the identified infrastructure needs and priorities should be addressed. The Government will then formally respond to the recommendations made.
Once established, the Commission may choose to review the way it will undertake work. Nevertheless, on 26 May 2016 (yesterday) the interim Commission launched its consultation on the process and methodology for the NIA. The consultation is open until 5 August 2016 and can be accessed here.