"No time to lose" on planning reforms, says Commission

Commission Chair Sir John Armitt responds to announcements made in today's Autumn Statement by the Chancellor.

Published: 22 Nov 2023

By: Rob Mallows

Tagged: ,

T-pylons under construction

Today’s Autumn Statement includes announcements on steps to speed up the planning system for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). Some of these steps are informed by the work of the National Infrastructure Commission, and related work by Nick Winser, the government’s Electricity Networks Commissioner (and also a National Infrastructure Commissioner).

Responding to today’s announcements, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said:

“Speeding up the planning process for major infrastructure projects is vital to achieving net zero, improving climate resilience and boosting economic growth.

“Government’s endorsement of a strategic spatial approach to the energy transmission network is a big step forward, and we welcome the ambition to get decisions on major projects made within two and half years, down from the current average of over four years.

“To achieve this ambition, government must urgently finalise a new set of clear, updated national policy statements for energy and transport and progress the other Commission recommendations it has adopted. While there are indications of progress on promoting greater access to environmental data, government needs to go further to provide firm commitments and timeframes for data sharing and to support the development of mitigations that benefit multiple projects in key sectors and locations.

“Industry and investors will be watching to ensure government moves from commitments to action. There’s no time to lose.”

In a study published in April 2023, the National Infrastructure Commission recommended a range of measures to speed up the planning regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), to which government has responded formally today.

The Commission’s proposals included five-yearly reviews of National Policy Statements; a clear menu of direct benefits for communities hosting major infrastructure schemes; a central coordination and oversight mechanism for NSIPs reporting to the Prime Minister or the Chancellor; and the introduction of an environmental data sharing platform by the end of 2024, with the establishment of a library of effective environmental mitigations for different kinds of infrastructure by the end of 2025. Government has accepted the first three principles but has not fully adopted the Commission’s recommendations on environmental assessments.

In the Second National Infrastructure Assessment last month, the Commission set out the scale of public and private investment needed to meet major economic and environmental goals over the next 30 years. The Commission calculates that a sizeable portion of that investment – at least £30bn per year – will need to be consented for through the NSIPs regime.

Government also announced today that it will ask the Commission to undertake studies on connected and autonomous vehicles and mobility; and the future of the electricity distribution network (5.91 and 5.98 of Policy Decisions section of Autumn Statement document). More details on the scope of these studies will be published shortly.

Share this article


Recent Articles

Coming up in 2024
Thumbtack pins in calendar concept for busy, appointment and meeting reminder

Coming up in 2024

This page shows a calendar reflecting the latest expected dates for Commission reports, publications and events. You can also sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter by entering your email address in the box at the foot of each website page.

1 Feb 2024 By
Commission to explore capability of local electricity grid to support renewables push
electricity substation

Commission to explore capability of local electricity grid to support renewables push

Ensuring that the network connecting homes and businesses to the electricity supply can cope with the demands of a fully electric-powered economy will be the focus of a new piece of work by the National Infrastructure Commission. The government has today (27 February) published the terms of reference for the study, which asks the Commission...

27 Feb 2024 By
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

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.