This week HM Treasury and Infrastructure UK unveiled the Government's 'National Infrastructure Plan' (NIP). This is to set out the "broad vision of the infrastructure investment required to underpin the UK's growth" and focuses on economic infrastructure: energy, transport, digital communication, flood protection, water and waste management.

However, the Government's approach is that firstly better use should be made of existing assets, then new capital investments should be aimed at tackling particular stress points on infrastructure networks. If there is then any money available, significant investment in new/replacement infrastructure should only be made if it is part of a clear long term strategy, is affordable and where maintenance or small scale investment will not meet future need (echoing the principles set out in Sir Rod Eddington's 2006 Transport Study).

Of note, the NIP envisages:

In the energy arena:

  • a new generation of nuclear power stations, built without public subsidy
  • an array of offshore wind turbines , to exploit the UK's offshore wind-resources
  • the development of critical low carbon technologies such as biomass and carbon capture and storage; and
  • the expansion of technologies such as anaerobic digestion to produce heating gas from sewage, industrial, commercial, residential and farm waste.

In the transport arena:

  • 21% efficiency savings by Network Rail over the current regulatory period;
  • a review of how the Highways Agency operates,
  • the carrying forward design work and subsequently legislation for HS2 - the high-speed rail connections from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds;
  • the encouragement of trust ports to bring forward proposals for modernisation and privatisation (see further BDB comment in Lloyd’s List here)

Local infrastructure is to be supported through a combination of public funds (Regional Growth Fund) and private (Tax Increment Financing (TIF)). The Regional Growth Fund will be extended to 3 years and its funding increased from £1 billion to £1.4 billion.

Additionally, the Government will establish a system of lorry road-user charging and will provide incentives for the purchase of electric and plug-in hybrid cars. A Local Sustainable Transport Fund, to encourage local schemes which will change behaviour and encourage more sustainable travel. As has been previously announced, the establishment of a Green Investment Bank with an initial £1 billion funding is intended to stimulate investment in the green economy.

The NIP is to be updated and developed by the end of 2011. The Treasury Press release can be found here, and the plan itself here.