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.
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
National Infrastructure Assessment
An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.
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...
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
“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...
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...
Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals
Policy mechanisms for supporting deployment of engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies
Call for evidence submissions to greenhouse gas removals technology study
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...
Commission backs virtual pavilion at climate summit
The National Infrastructure Commission is supporting the creation of a Built Environment Virtual Pavilion at this November’s COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. The pavilion – developed by the UK Green Building Council – will act as a smart virtual presence at the summit, providing a platform for a range of bodies involved in infrastructure and...
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...
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...