Unwrapping the importance of infrastructure for everyday life

Published: 18 Dec 2019

By: Sir John Armitt - Chairman

Portrait of Sir John Armitt

As we hurtle towards Christmas, infrastructure is perhaps not top of most people’s minds.

But without it, the holidays would be rather less enjoyable (raw turkey, anyone?) and those of us travelling wouldn’t be able to get to where we are supposed to be.

So this year, the National Infrastructure Commission is working with various companies and industry bodies to highlight some of the hidden heroes working across infrastructure on Christmas Day.

Every year, hundreds of people across energy, transport and water are on site during the time that most of us are usually off work.

Of course, they join an army of people in the health and social care sector, emergency services and many others which require staffing over Christmas. But traditionally, infrastructure workers have probably received less attention.

We wanted to draw together examples of people who will be helping ensure the rest of the country can celebrate and relax, by providing the vital services we all rely upon. The Commission hopes it will raise the profile of the various trades and professions that support the UK’s infrastructure – and encourage others to spare a thought for those heading out to work on 25 December.

There’s also a wider point. Recognising those who help keep the lights on, water flowing and transport moving underlines the importance of infrastructure to everyday life.

This includes a wide range of services that we typically only think about when they go wrong, or when natural events take them to breaking point.

We can take infrastructure for granted, but it is the backbone of Britain. Investing wisely in proper long term planning will support economic growth and boost quality of life for all regions of the UK.

The Commission exists to advise the government on precisely these matters, and as 2019 draws to a close, it’s worth reflecting that it’s been a year when the fragility of parts of our infrastructure have regularly hit the headlines – the damage to Toddbrook Reservoir; the Yorkshire floods; debates about future high speed rail provision.

None of these issues have easy answers, though in terms of strategic priorities, the Commission’s National Infrastructure Assessment published last summer is the right place for the new government to start.

So when I’m asked about my Christmas wish list, I reply that a National Infrastructure Strategy early in 2020 would be greatly appreciated – not just by me, or indeed our sector, but by present and future citizens of the UK, for many years to come.

While our new government puts what I hope are the finishing touches to such a strategy, I wish you a very happy Christmas, and all the best for 2020.


Share this article


Recent Articles

We’re recruiting – Senior Policy Adviser (environment)
Floodplain near Wollaston

We’re recruiting – Senior Policy Adviser (environment)

We’re looking to recuit someone with a particular interest in water management to join our environment team and help develop policies that enables our infrastructure systems to better protect and enhance our natural environment and safeguard important natural resources in the face of climate change impacts. Based in our Leeds office, the successful candidate will...

23 Feb 2024 By
Letter to government on business models for net zero technologies

Letter to government on business models for net zero technologies

Commission Chair Sir John Armitt has written to government setting out the need to accelerate efforts to encourage private investment in the energy infrastructure pivotal to achieving net zero and energy security. In a letter to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Sir John highlights the importance of...

23 Feb 2024 By
Digital future for UK roads network focus of new Commission study
Graphic showing autonomous cars

Digital future for UK roads network focus of new Commission study

Harnessing the potential of digitally connected autonomous cars and commercial vehicles to increase road safety, tackle congestion and improve the accessibility of transport services will be the focus of a new National Infrastructure Commission study on connected and autonomous mobility (CAM). The government has today (12 February) published the terms of reference for the study,...

12 Feb 2024 By

Evidence_Icon_Turquoise Created with Sketch.

Explore data used in the Commission's research, and gain insights from across UK infrastructure

Join our team of professionals supporting the Commission to provide evidence based and forward thinking advice on infrastructure strategy.