The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called on government to take a ‘golden opportunity’ to switch to greener energy generation and a more rapid take-up of electric cars.
The NIC’s long-awaited first National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) recommends that government should make £500m a year available from 2025/26 to 2034/35 for local highways authorities to address the local road maintenance backlog. It also called for elected metro mayors and other city leaders to be given more power and cash to back infrastructure projects.
The report calls for at least half of the UK’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030, arguing that the falling cost of the technology, gives it an advantage over nuclear.
It ‘cautions against a rush to agree government support for multiple new nuclear power stations’, recommending that after Hinkley C the Government should agree support for only one more nuclear plant before 2025.
The Commission also wants the Government to prepare the charging infrastructure for 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030, well ahead of its plan to ban the sale of new conventional diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040.
The Department for Transport’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, published on Monday, included ‘ambition to see at least half of new cars to be (sic) ultra low emission by 2030’.
The NIA also confirms the Commission’s support for major transport projects such as Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
NIC chair Sir John Armitt said: ‘If we act now we have a golden opportunity to make our country greener, and protect the money in the pockets of consumers long into the future – something few of us expected to be able to do.
‘Whether it’s electric or driverless cars, new energy sources, tackling the risk of climate change or preparing for the newest and fastest broadband speeds, the issues we’ve been considering profoundly affect people’s everyday lives.
‘This is not some unaffordable wish-list of projects: it sets a clear direction for how to meet the country’s future infrastructure needs, and makes a realistic assessment of what can and should be delivered within the stated aim of Ministers for steady and continued investment over the coming years.'
The Commission does not have statutory status. Its recommendations include:
- that the Government devise a National Broadband Plan by Spring 2019, to deliver full fibre connections across the whole of the country, including those in rural areas – this should ensure that the technology is available to 15 million homes and businesses by 2025, 25 million by 2030, and all homes and businesses by 2033
- that the Government work with councils and private companies to deliver a national network of charging points for electric vehicles and ensures that the impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles are taken into account when planning for the next rail control period and road investment strategy;
- that Metro Mayors and city leaders develop and implement long-term strategies for transport, employment and housing in their areas, to support economic growth, with new powers and devolved infrastructure budgets. The NIA’s spending plans include funding for projects including Crossrail 2 in London, and Northern Powerhouse Rail linking the major Northern cities, and recommends a boost in funding for major cities totalling £43bn to 2040, with cities given stable five-year budgets, starting in 2021;
- that the Government should put in place a long-term strategy to deliver a nationwide standard of flood resilience by 2050 with funding for flood risk management increasing significantly over the coming decades
- that new national rules for what can and cannot be recycled be introduced, with restrictions on the hardest-to-recycle plastics