Climate Action

Review shows pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action

Second National Infrastructure Assessment sets agenda for action over next 30 years

  • 20 October 2023
  • Press release

Second National Infrastructure Assessment sets agenda for action over next 30 years 

Improved infrastructure to boost economic growth across the UK and meet climate goals is both achievable and affordable if the right policy steps are taken now, according to the government’s independent advisers on infrastructure strategy. 

The Second National Infrastructure Assessment – a five yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – sets out a programme of transformation for the country’s energy, transport and other key networks over the next 30 years.  

The report is upfront about the need for significant public and private investment in infrastructure if the UK is to rebalance its economic geography, meet climate obligations, improve resilience and enhance the natural environment. 

The Commission calculates that government’s commitment to a sharp increase in public sector investment in infrastructure to around £30 billion per year will need to be sustained until 2040. This sits at the top of the funding envelope set by HM Treasury for the Commission’s recommendations of up to 1.3% GDP a year. Meanwhile, private sector investment will need to increase from around £30-40 billion over the last decade to £40-50 billion in the 2030s and 2040s. 

Attracting this investment to the UK in the face of global competition will require a new approach, says the Commission. This includes policy stability, pro-investment regulation and speeding up the planning system for major projects, particularly energy transmission schemes. 

The Assessment also sets out the likely impact of the Commission’s recommendations on households, where private investment is recouped through infrastructure service bills. It finds that the average household will save at least £1,000 per year by the mid 2030s compared to today, largely driven by the transition away from fossil fuels onto cheaper low carbon electricity. 

Alongside other recommendations, the Assessment makes the case for heat pumps and heat networks as the solution for switching buildings from gas for heating. Noting that 7 million buildings in England will need to make this transition by 2035 to meet the Sixth Carbon Budget, the Commission sets out a bold, comprehensive and fully costed programme of government support for households to make the switch. 

In addition, it calls on government to rule out the use of hydrogen for heating and focus hydrogen on power generation and industrial decarbonisation. 

Find out more here.