Environment

Infrastructure can help us protect and enhance our environment and safeguard natural resources in the face of climate change.

Updated:

Offshore wind farm

Summary

There is very little of the natural environment in the UK today that has not been shaped or impacted in some way by human activity and the infrastructure that has been put in place to support it.

Although there have been some major improvements (for example, better water quality in major rivers such as the Thames), trends over the last 60 years looking at environmental measures, such as biodiversity, show a clear decline.

Infrastructure will play a significant role in meeting the UK’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or before. The Commission’s work in this area covers the big challenges and opportunities in moving to a low cost, low carbon future for key utilities, as explored in our energy & waste theme.

As set out in the recent Baseline Report, the recommendations of the second National Infrastructure Assessment in 2023 will be shaped by two strategic themes: reaching net zero, and supporting climate resilience and the environment. Under these themes, the Commission will undertake projects looking at further decarbonising energy and heating; reducing the risks from surface water flooding; and identifying how the waste management infrastructure can better support a circular economy.

Our work on transport also helps inform policy making that cuts air pollution and seeks to decarbonise both public transport systems and private road transport, while our work on water and floods helps build community resilience in the face of extreme weather patterns.

It is vital that major infrastructure projects consider their impact on the environment at every stage of their planning and design, as reflected in our design principles for national infrastructure. Our research and recommendations span ways of both reducing the negative impact of major infrastructure construction and operation, and how infrastructure can actively contribute to the protection of the country’s natural resources and environment.

Environment data

Data sets relating to the environment theme are available to review on our Data pages. This includes data sets used in Commission reports, as well as historic data sets. Each can be reviewed online or downloaded.

Review environment data

Latest Updates

National Infrastructure Assessment

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Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment
Images from front cover of Baseline Report

Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment

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15 Nov 2021 By
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Images from front cover of Baseline Report

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Three Windmills on green hills in front of a stormy sky

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The government has today (19 October 2021) published a number of documents setting out commitments to support the transition to a lower carbon economy. Responding to publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Kick starting the heat pump market to reduce costs for households to...

19 Oct 2021 By
Government must get UK ahead of the game in crucial engineered removals sector
The UK from a satellite

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29 Jul 2021 By
Engineered greenhouse gas removals
The UK from a satellite

Engineered greenhouse gas removals

29 Jul 2021
Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals
Blurred image of large crowd of people

Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals

29 Jul 2021
Greenhouse gas removal technology attributes

Greenhouse gas removal technology attributes

29 Jul 2021
Policy mechanisms for supporting deployment of engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies

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29 Jul 2021
Greenhouse gas removal technologies
Drax Power Station at sunset, near Selby North Yorkshire

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A study examining how greenhouse gas removal technologies can support the UK's climate ambitions.

29 Jul 2021
Call for evidence submissions to greenhouse gas removals technology study
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Call for evidence submissions to greenhouse gas removals technology study

29 Jul 2021
Public engagement needed for water usage plans to work, says Commission
Water running down a metal drain.

Public engagement needed for water usage plans to work, says Commission

Today (1 July) government has published a Written Ministerial Statement on steps to reduce personal water consumption. It follows a public consultation on the subject held in 2019, and outlines measures government intends to take to encourage water efficient products and introduce a more consistent approach to leakage. In response, a spokesperson for the National...

1 Jul 2021 By
Commission backs virtual pavilion at climate summit

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27 May 2021 By
Commission backs new vision for relationship between the natural and built environments

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The National Infrastructure Commission has today endorsed a bold new vision for protecting and enhancing the UK’s built environment. The Commission is one of more than 35 bodies which have put their names to Vision for the Built Environment, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, and the...

22 Apr 2021 By
Policy roadmap needed to achieve “important signal of intent”: Armitt on revised emissions target
A wind turbine and electricity pylon

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The National Infrastructure Commission has welcomed today’s announcement by government that it will introduce a legally binding target to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, in line with recommendations from the Climate Change Committee. Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “This ambitious target provides an important signal...

20 Apr 2021 By

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