The Commission's recommendations to government:
Make available expert strategic advice and support for towns
The government should make available expert strategic advice and support for places that lack the capability and capacity to develop their own infrastructure strategies and wider place based plans. The government should determine which national organisation or body is best placed to provide that support and ensure it is adequately funded.
Set out a clear plan for delivery of gigabit broadband to hardest to reach premises
The government should set out a clear plan, with milestones and funding, for delivery of gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach premises that will require public subsidy. In those towns where there are likely to be gaps in commercial rollout, and the government’s regional procurement programme is scheduled to start later, the government should work with local authorities and operators to identify opportunities for local solutions and facilitate voucher funded projects to accelerate coverage wherever possible.
Encourage take up of new communications networks by businesses
The government should develop a strategy by 2022 for encouraging the take up of new communications networks and services by small and medium enterprises.
Improve users’ experiences of local mobile connectivity
Ofcom and the government should consider real world user experience data, alongside prediction models, to improve the understanding of how people experience mobile connectivity in different places and identify any significant patterns that need to be addressed. As part of this, consideration should be given to whether Ofcom’s existing reporting on user experience can be extended to provide a more granular view of localised mobile user experience.
A roadmap for EVs charging infrastructure in towns
The government should publish the electric vehicle charging infrastructure strategy, without further delay, followed by a roadmap for the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in towns. Local infrastructure strategies should also include an active role for the local authority in planning and managing the rollout of on street electric vehicle charging.
Every local transport authority should have a long term infrastructure strategy
Every local transport authority should have a long term infrastructure strategy for the towns in its area, supported by a pipeline of projects. These strategies should be developed locally and collaboratively as part of, or complementary to, distinctive 15 year place based plans for the economic development of towns. Infrastructure strategies and wider plans should draw on local strengths, presenting a distinctive vision for towns. To ensure accountability, infrastructure strategies and wider plans should set out clear, transparent outcomes and, at the end of each five year funding period (see recommendation 2), local authorities will need to carry out assessments of whether those outcomes have been achieved.
Support innovation in towns where this can accelerate progress substantially
The government should support innovation in towns where trials would be too costly and risky for local authorities to run on their own, and where government involvement can accelerate progress substantially. This should be delivered via a local innovation fund and should include:
- partnering with towns to run innovation pilots for new communication technologies, including 5G use cases
- supporting experimentation and early rollout for innovations in on demand bus services.
Government should ensure that lessons from trials are transparently and proactively shared.
Give local areas greater control over funding and decision making
The government should give local areas greater control over funding and decision making on local infrastructure investment. It should provide all county and unitary authorities, or combined authorities where they are in place, with devolved five year budgets for infrastructure, to match the arrangements in place for mayoral combined authorities. Funding should be allocated on a simple basis that reflects population and the size of the transport network being managed.
Provide targeted funding for key strategic priorities
In addition to devolved budgets for infrastructure, the government should provide targeted funding for key strategic priorities: where infrastructure outcomes are particularly poor, or where infrastructure could help towns seize economic opportunities. To access this targeted funding, places will have to demonstrate that they have a credible infrastructure strategy and wider placed based plan in place.
Support a portfolio of engineered removals technologies
Government should support a portfolio of engineered removals and deploy a range of first of a kind plants at scale no later than 2030. To support deployment, government should use a combination of:
- staged competitions, focused on pulling through early stage technologies to commercial readiness
- direct investment, with the option for the involvement of the UK Infrastructure Bank
- contracts for revenue with government using competitive auctions where possible, and consider the feasibility of linking the contracts to a market-based mechanism, such as the newly established UK Emission Trading Scheme.
Polluting sectors should pay for the removals they need to reach carbon targets
Government should aim to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets. Sectors that do not require removals to achieve net zero should not be obligated to pay for them. However, in some instances there may be adverse consequences that require intervention. To account for this, by 2024, government must:
- undertake and publish detailed analysis on the range of adverse distributional consequences that could occur from the proposed policy approach
- set out which sectors it is open to providing subsidy for removals to
- consider the risks of offshoring emitting activities to other countries, and how these can be mitigated.
Enable infrastructure to support deployment of engineered removals
Government and regulators, in particular Ofgem for electricity and Ofwat and the Environment Agency for water, must work with operators of infrastructure networks to ensure any demands from engineered removals are planned for from the late 2020s.
Ensure the necessary carbon transport and storage infrastructure is in place
Government must ensure that the required carbon transport and storage infrastructure is delivered and that additional demand from engineered removals deployment is accounted for in its plans. To do this government must:
- finalise its regulatory regime and policy frameworks for carbon transport and storage and facilitate deployment at scale over the 2020s
- consider how engineered removals in dispersed locations not near the UK’s industrial clusters, for example small energy from waste or biomass plants with carbon capture and storage, can be integrated into carbon transport and storage networks over the next decade
- ensure adequate carbon dioxide storage capacity is explored and characterised in time to deploy engineered removals.
Commit to deploy a range of different engineered removals at scale no later than 2030
Government must make a clear commitment to deploy a range of different engineered removals at megatonne scale in the UK no later than 2030 and must publish a detailed plan to deliver this by the end of 2022. This should form the basis for an enduring policy regime which will maximise the likelihood of the UK playing a leading role in the development of engineered removals.
Maintain existing efforts to reduce emissions
Action on deploying engineered removals must not reduce effort from emissions reduction, which should be used to cut most of the country’s emissions. Government’s net zero strategy should set this out clearly.