Environment

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

Updated:

Offshore wind farm

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.

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

Commission backs new vision for relationship between the natural and built environments
Natural capital and environmental net gain

Commission backs new vision for relationship between the natural and built environments

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
Annual Monitoring Report 2021
A wind turbine and electricity pylon

Policy roadmap needed to achieve “important signal of intent”: Armitt on revised emissions target

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
Valuing natural capital in infrastructure
Natural capital and environmental net gain
View across Pegwell Bay Marsh

Valuing natural capital in infrastructure

This week, government has launched a consultation on its draft policy statement on five environmental principles, to be enshrined in the Environment Bill. The announcement follows hot on the heels of last month’s publication of the Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity. This landmark report made a decisive link between the economy and nature, suggesting...

11 Mar 2021 By
Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission
Annual Monitoring Report 2021
Montage of images representing infrastructure, including a woman charging an electric vehicle and a man wearing a mask using public transport

Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission

Detailed plans for decarbonising energy supply, accelerating the roll out of electric vehicle charge points and connecting hard to reach areas with high capacity broadband are among the next steps needed to ensure government can deliver its aims for levelling up and meeting the net zero target, according to the National Infrastructure Commission. The Commission’s...

17 Feb 2021 By
‘Aim for gain’ to support natural capital assets
Natural capital and environmental net gain
The Severn Crossing behind a meadow of wildflowers

‘Aim for gain’ to support natural capital assets

Infrastructure developments should aim to leave the environment in a measurably better condition than before to reinforce steps already being taken to protect the UK’s diminishing natural resources, according to a discussion paper published today by the National Infrastructure Commission. Adopting this approach to ‘environmental net gain’ would help ensure losses of high value natural...

5 Feb 2021 By
Natural capital and environmental net gain
The Severn Crossing behind a meadow of wildflowers

Natural capital and environmental net gain

5 Feb 2021
Call for evidence opens on potential of greenhouse gas removal infrastructure to boost UK net zero strategy
Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies
Drax Power Station at sunset, near Selby North Yorkshire

Call for evidence opens on potential of greenhouse gas removal infrastructure to boost UK net zero strategy

The National Infrastructure Commission is inviting businesses, policy makers, scientists, academics, thinktanks and investors to share their views on the potential of emerging technologies designed to remove harmful greenhouse gas emissions directly from the atmosphere and store them. The Commission has today launched a new call for evidence as part of its study examining how...

20 Jan 2021 By
Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies study: Call for evidence
Image of clouds in the sky

Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies study: Call for evidence

20 Jan 2021
Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies
Drax Power Station at sunset, near Selby North Yorkshire

Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies

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

25 Nov 2020
“A vital step and important signal”: Armitt responds to government plans for ‘green industrial revolution’

“A vital step and important signal”: Armitt responds to government plans for ‘green industrial revolution’

Responding to today’s announcement by the Prime Minister on government plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “A 2030 deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans is a vital step to help the UK meet our net zero target. It’s an...

18 Nov 2020 By
James Heath: Getting the evidence in place for key decisions on low carbon heat
Man turning on a British Combi Gas Boiler

James Heath: Getting the evidence in place for key decisions on low carbon heat

James Heath, Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, addressed Utility Week’s ‘Build Back Better’ Forum today (21 October 2020). His speech explored the policy decisions and investment needed to harness the full potential of low carbon heat, setting out the range of evidence that will be required to ensure effective decisions to address the...

21 Oct 2020 By
Armitt speech on principles for urban infrastructure
Cities Programme
Portrait of Sir John Armitt

Armitt speech on principles for urban infrastructure

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, delivered a speech today (7 October 2020) at the launch of the Commission’s report, Principles for effective urban infrastructure. The launch event was co-hosted with Centre for Cities. The text of Sir John’s speech can be found below.   Before I begin let me thank our...

7 Oct 2020 By
Armitt: “Build Build Build” plans need to lock in environmental gains with long term strategy
windmills against a blue sky

Armitt: “Build Build Build” plans need to lock in environmental gains with long term strategy

Responding to today’s speech (‘Build Build Build’, 30 June 2020) by the Prime Minister, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Building back better, greener and faster are welcome ambitions and it is critical that we take immediate steps to secure jobs and build confidence across supply chains. “Opportunities remain to accelerate...

30 Jun 2020 By
New report a “timely reminder” of need for green economic recovery plan

New report a “timely reminder” of need for green economic recovery plan

The latest annual report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change says accelerating steps to address climate change must be at the heart of any economic recovery plan, and proposes a range of green stimulus measures in tune with recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission. The CCC’s latest report says government should use...

25 Jun 2020 By

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