Last edited 20 Oct 2016

National infrastructure plan

Contents

[edit] Introduction

The UK's first National Infrastructure Plan was published in October 2010. It was developed by Infrastructure UK a division of HM Treasury, with an advisory council chaired by Paul Skinner established to provide guidance on strategic direction and priorities.

The plan was created to tackle the UK's historically fragmented infrastructure development programmes which tend to be ineffective at prioritising need, instead only reacting to failures. The plan was intended to provide a clear, long-term strategy for maintaining and improving infrastructure, enabling the UK to remain competitive and to accommodate an increasing population.

The plan set out a vision for the infrastructure investment needed to underpin sustainable growth in the UK over the coming decades. It suggested that the majority of this investment would be funded by the private sector (almost two thirds between 2011 and 2015).

The plan focused on infrastructure requirements for:

  • Energy.
  • Transport.
  • Digital communications.
  • Flood management, water and waste.
  • Intellectual capital.

[edit] 2011 revision

The plan was updated in November 2011 with publication of the National Infrastructure Plan 2011. The revised plan (178 pages compared to the original 52) suggested that it gave '… clarity on the role of Government in specifying what infrastructure we need and how it can remove barriers to mobilise both private and public sector resources to maintain our world class infrastructure.'

The 2011 plan set out:

  • A medium-term plan for the UK's infrastructure.
  • A strategy for coordinating public and private investment.
  • Details of new investment.
  • A focus on delivery, with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury chairing a new Cabinet Committee on infrastructure.

Alongside the plan, the government published a two-year forward programme or 'pipeline' of infrastructure and construction projects. The pipeline was intended to provide the '…transparency and certainty, which will help businesses plan and give investors confidence.' The infrastructure investment pipeline was intended to be updated annually, and published as a single document along with the government construction pipeline.

[edit] National Infrastructure Plan 2013

On 4 December 2013, the National Infrastructure Plan 2013 was published. This included £375 billion of planned public and private sector infrastructure investment for energy, transport, flood defence, waste, water and communications up to 2030 and beyond.

The plan identified the government's top 40 priority investments, providing more detail on the timing, funding and status of each and explaining the rationale for their selection. It also established a new Major Infrastructure Tracking unit within Infrastructure UK to track the progress of each of the top 40 priority investments.

The National Infrastructure Plan 2013 was published alongside the National Infrastructure Pipeline 2013 providing an overview of planned and potential UK infrastructure investment. The pipeline is intended to create certainty for investors and the supply chain, identifying key infrastructure opportunities. However, the government states that “the pipeline is not a statement of need or a commitment to undertake any of the projects shown”.

On the same day that the National Infrastructure Plan 2013 was published six major insurers announced plans to invest £25 billion in UK infrastructure over five years.

[edit] 2015

An updated infrastructure pipeline published July 2015 detailed £411 billion of investment in 564 projects and programmes from 2015/16 onwards with increasing investment in transport, energy, communications and environmental networks.

In September 2015, the government published a National Infrastructure Plan for Skills setting out the results of skills analysis and modelling of the National Infrastructure Pipeline and describing the key challenges faced by sectors and regions.

In his speech to the Conservative party conference on 5 October 2015, Chancellor George Osborne announced the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission to provide an unbiased analysis of the UK's long-term infrastructure needs, delivering a long-term plan for, and assessment of, national infrastructure needs early in each parliament.

[edit] Criticisms

The National Infrastructure Plan has attracted some criticism. Initially intended to look forward a number of decades and identify the critical elements of infrastructure that the UK would require in order to shape the future well-being of the country, what was originally produced was seen by some as a no more than a list of hoped-for infrastructure projects that may delivered in the coming years.

In April 2013, MP's on the Public Accounts Committee published a report, HM Treasury: Planning for economic infrastructure. In it, they criticised the National Infrastructure Plan, questioning whether it would be possible to raise the funding required to realise the plan in full, and suggesting that the public may end up paying a large proportion of private sector component through increases in bills. The report also suggested that the plan was simply “…a list of projects, not a real plan with a strategic vision and clear priorities..”

In September 2015, KPMG revealed that 28% of projects had disappeared from the government construction pipeline since December 2014.

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