Environment

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

Updated:

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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

James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience
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James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience

The Commission’s Chief Executive, James Heath, today (17 May 2022) gave a keynote address at Utility Week Live on climate adaptation and resilience. The session, held at the Birmingham NEC, explored utilities’ approaches to adaptation planning and how they are seeking to build resilience to respond to the impacts of climate change already present, as...

17 May 2022 By
NIA2 Baseline Charts
Images from the Baseline Report

NIA2 Baseline Charts

Data from the Baseline Report providing an overview of the current performance of the infrastructure sectors within the Commission's remit

16 Mar 2022
Infrastructure Progress Review 2022
Group of images reprepsenting different infrastructure sectors

Infrastructure Progress Review 2022

Our annual assessment of the government's progress on implementing its commitments on infrastructure.

16 Mar 2022
Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals
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Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals

The government is at risk of failing to deliver the aims of its National Infrastructure Strategy unless it picks up the pace with detailed policy design and implementation, the UK’s official independent infrastructure adviser has warned.  The National Infrastructure Commission says that clear, long term goals are now in place across most infrastructure areas and...

16 Mar 2022 By
Frank debate on costs and expectations needed to prepare infrastructure for climate change
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Frank debate on costs and expectations needed to prepare infrastructure for climate change

A public debate needs to be held on the right level of investment that today’s consumers and taxpayers can be expected to pay to prepare key national infrastructure for climate risks of the future, the Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission has told a Parliamentary committee. Sir John Armitt told MPs and Peers that on...

14 Dec 2021 By
National Infrastructure Assessment
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National Infrastructure Assessment

An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.

15 Nov 2021
Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment
Images from the Baseline Report

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

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the topics that will sit at the heart of its next major assessment of the UK’s long term infrastructure priorities, to be published in 2023, following analysis of the current performance of key sectors. The priorities will include identifying the infrastructure needed for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage...

15 Nov 2021 By
Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report
Images from the Baseline Report

Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report

Our analysis of the performance of key infrastructure sectors which will inform the work leading to the UK's second National Infrastructure Assessment

15 Nov 2021
“The priority now is to get on with it”: Sir John Armitt responds to government’s net zero strategies
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“The priority now is to get on with it”: Sir John Armitt responds to government’s net zero strategies

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

Government must get UK ahead of the game in crucial engineered removals sector

The UK government must commit to the wide-scale deployment of new greenhouse gas removal technologies by 2030 in order to meet its climate change obligations, according to a report by the National Infrastructure Commission.  The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources...

29 Jul 2021 By
Engineered greenhouse gas removals
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Engineered greenhouse gas removals

29 Jul 2021
Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals
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Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals

Analysis Leeds University/Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment which informed the greenhouse gas removals technology study.

29 Jul 2021
Greenhouse gas removal technology attributes
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Greenhouse gas removal technology attributes

Technical review by Foresight Transmissions of current knowledge on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC) technologies.

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

29 Jul 2021
Greenhouse gas removal technologies
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Greenhouse gas removal technologies

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

29 Jul 2021

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