Business leaders call for fresh green infrastructure insight

Green Alliance and National Grid are among a clutch of business and environmental groups that have launched a national consultation asking for insights on the UK's future infrastructure needs and how they could be met.

The call for evidence, issued today (25 January) by a coalition that also includes representatives from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the CBI and KPMG, will be used in an assessment designed to inform the work of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The final ‘National Needs Assessment’ presented by the coalition will be based on evidence gathered during the nationwide consultation, evidence hearings, and research being undertaken by the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium.

It will take into account factors such as climate change, population growth and technological “game-changers” and will also review different options for meeting the UK’s needs, considering environmental obligations, affordability and public acceptability.

A report will be published in the autumn, setting out a vision for UK infrastructure up to 2050 as well as a series of interventions Government and industry will need to make to realise the vision.

The findings will be considered by the NIC, which was established by George Osborne in October and asked to publish an Assessment every Parliament of the UK’s infrastructure needs over a 10 to 30 year horizon. Osborne has asked the Commission to report on three initial projects by Budget 2016, one of which is energy infrastructure.

Green decisions

Green Alliance director Matthew Spencer said: “Today’s infrastructure decisions determine tomorrow’s economy.

“To caricature the choices, we could have a tarmac-dominated strategy that reinforces the current imbalance in the UK economy and increases pollution, or we could have transport and energy systems that encourage smart technology, facilitate sustainable growth outside the South East and reduce our environmental footprint.

“I would encourage civil society and local government to engage with this important initiative by the Institution of Civil Engineers.”

Common goal

NIC Commissioner Sir John Armitt, who is co-chairing the new initiative, added: “This coalition of leading organisations has united to provide the Commission with an independent view on infrastructure, which it can feed into its work.

“We all share a common goal – the development of a long term infrastructure strategy which drives the economic growth necessary to enhance the UK’s position in the global economy, support a high quality of life and enable a shift to a low carbon future.”

Earlier this week, the chief executive of the NIC told delegates at a Renewable Energy Association event in London that energy storage would likely be an important factor in the NIC’s assessment of Britain’s energy infrastructure.

Green Alliance’s membership of this consultation comes on the same day that the environmental think tank released a new report calling for better alignment of natural capital and traditional nature conservation to create a hybrid method to controlling the decline of nature in the UK.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie