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Last edited 02 Mar 2020
National Infrastructure Commission's Annual Monitoring Report 2020
In February 2020, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published its Annual Monitoring Report, assessing the Government's progress against the Commission's recommendations. The results, as ICE Lead Policy Manager Ben Goodwin discovers, are underwhelming.
[The Government's National Infrastructure Strategy will be published as part of the Budget]
The scope of the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2020 monitoring report takes in the progress that the Government has made against the advice set out in the six substantial studies that it has published since formation.
It is important to note that what the monitoring report does not do (at least in its entirety) is to consider the performance of the Government against the recommendations put forward in the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) in 2018.
The Government’s forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, which is to be published as part of the Budget, will be its official response to the NIA. We would therefore expect the NIC to incorporate performance against the NIA recommendations in next years’ monitoring report or through another dedicated channel.
 Room for improvement in the Government’s performance
- High Speed North
- Smart Power
- Transport for a World City (including Crossrail 2)
- Connected Future
- Partnering for Prosperity (specifically the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc)
- Data for the Public Good
The report concludes that minimal progress was made during 2019 on High Speed North, although of course it does recognise that the Government’s recent decision to greenlight High Speed 2 and ensure that it is properly integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail is a positive step. On Crossrail 2, the commentary points to there having been limited progress throughout last year and the NIC has called for the Government to approve the revised business case for the scheme as a priority.
On smart power the report outlines the need for the Government to make more progress in enabling the development of energy storage technologies and demand side management approaches. It also suggests that progress in meeting housebuilding targets in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc is not enough and that a clear strategy for addressing this shortfall should be drawn up, alongside reaching a position on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway to ensure that improved east west connectivity is unlocked without further delay.
The report finds that the motorway network now has near universal mobile coverage for voice calls and 4G data services, but that there is a great deal of work required to bring the railways up to speed. Finally, the NIC has asked the Government to provide long-term and stable funding for the Centre for Digital Built Britain to utilise the potential of digital twin technology for the built environment sector.
 Infrastructure in 2020 and beyond
Brexit continued to cause uncertainty, whilst Government leadership changes coupled with a General Election in December meant that business as usual simply did not happen in terms of decision-making concerning the infrastructure sector.
The key thing going forward is that the Government is able to dedicate more of its time to addressing the concerns that the NIC has raised. Moreover, the forthcoming publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy represents a unique opportunity for the Government to present an evidence-based, long-term and joined-up approach for UK infrastructure provision.
This article was originally published as ‘Reflections on the National Infrastructure Commission’s Annual Monitoring Report’ on the ICE Infrastructure Blog on 28 February, 2020. It was written by Ben Goodwin, ICE Lead Policy Manager.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Budget 2020 and the first National Infrastructure Strategy.
- ICE articles.
- Interim National Infrastructure Assessment, Congestion, Capacity, Carbon.
- National Infrastructure Assessment 2018.
- National Infrastructure Commission.
- National Infrastructure Pipeline.
- National Infrastructure Plan.
- National Needs Assessment NNA.
- The Institution of Civil Engineers.
- What should be in the National Infrastructure Strategy?
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