To ensure the UK’s infrastructure is prepared for the major challenges of the future – such as the impacts of climate change and population growth - those planning and running key systems and services need clear policy direction and long term objectives. They also need to work within a regulatory system that supports these aims.
This is particularly important when it comes to further enhancing the resilience of our vital infrastructure.
The UK needs infrastructure systems which are resilient to future challenges including environmental threats like climate change. At the same time infrastructure systems need to be built and operated to repair past damage to the environment and deliver environmental improvements in the future.
In January 2022 the Government published a policy paper in response to the recommendations the Commission made in its regulation study in 2019. This committed the Government to issuing additional strategic guidance to regulators, reviewing their duties and exploring using competition for strategic investments, in line with the Commission’s report.
Improving the resilience of infrastructure to the impacts from climate change is one of the strategic themes shaping the Commission’s Second National Infrastructure Assessment. The report highlights that infrastructure and the environment are interdependent. Infrastructure reliability is threatened by environmental risks, while infrastructure systems can also affect the environment. In addition to specific recommendations on the resilience of specific sectors, the Assessment also recommends:
- setting national standards for how different infrastructure services should operate in the face of different challenges (that might be a storm, power cuts, flooding etc)
- giving regulators the powers to ensure that when they make future agreements with infrastructure companies about their future investment plans, those plans are consistent to meet these national resilience standards
- regular ‘stress testing’ of infrastructure systems by operators, under the watchful eye of the regulators – not just for testing the performance of individual systems, but also testing for the risk of ‘cascading’ failures
- ensuring engineering standards for new infrastructure take into account future climate chang
- requiring infrastructure operators to estimate the cost of maintaining resilience standards between now and 2050.
Along with our related work, such as on financing nuclear projects, we seek to chart how government, regulators and relevant sectors might create the best environment to enable market-led solutions for securing sustainable and reliable infrastructure which addresses the UK’s future needs.
Regulation & resilience data
Data sets relating to infrastructure regulation and resilience are available to review on our Data pages. The data can be reviewed online or downloaded.Review data
Jim Hall: clear national standards vital to improved extreme weather resilience
The National Audit Office has voiced concerns about the government’s progress on ensuring the UK can be resilient to the impacts of extreme weather events, in a new report out today (6 December). Government resilience: extreme weather finds that while central government has in place a range of existing protocols for managing the impacts of...
Jim Hall: Clarity on funding, clear targets crucial to long term flood resilience
A value for money report on flood resilience in England published by the National Audit Office today (15 November) warns that under current Environment Agency plans, forty per cent fewer properties in England will be protected from flooding compared to the number first forecast in 2020. The Resilience to flooding report finds that the Environment...
Long term review sets out pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action
Improved infrastructure to boost economic growth across the UK and meet climate goals is both achievable and affordable if the right policy steps are taken now, according to the government’s independent advisers on infrastructure strategy. The Second National Infrastructure Assessment – a five yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – sets out a...
Second National Infrastructure Assessment
The Commission's thirty year plan for a low carbon and resilient UK economy that supports economic growth and protects the natural environment
National Infrastructure Assessment
An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.
Commission welcomes net zero duty for Ofgem
The goverment has confirmed plans to amend the Energy Security Bill, currently before the House of Commons, to give the energy regulator Ofgem a new explicit net zero duty. The amendment will legally require the regulator to ensure its decisions assist the governmen’s drive to deliver zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and boost investment...
Letter to Ofwat on water company asset management
Commission Chief Executive James Heath has written to Ofwat Chief Executive David Black about asset management in the water sector, specifically the approach to ‘base cost’ maintenance costs for ensuring day-to-day services (e.g. replacing water mains pipes). The letter raises concerns about the lack of a consistent understanding of asset condition across the sector and...
NIC and CCC call for urgent action to protect infrastructure from climate risks
The National Infrastructure Commission and Climate Change Committee have written jointly to government urging ministers to take steps to improve the resilience of key infrastructure services to the effects of climate change. Building on recent reports by both organisations, the advisory bodies set out five steps to accelerate national adaptation planning to protect key networks:...
Stronger coordination of environment and community benefit needed to get planning timescales back on track
A new data platform to share environmental information and effective ways of addressing the impact of proposed infrastructure projects will enable stronger protection for natural habitats and speed up schemes crucial to the net zero transition, according to a new report by the National Infrastructure Commission. The review by the government’s official infrastructure advisers also...
Go big where it counts to hit economic and climate goals, says Commission
Government must develop stronger staying power and focus on fewer, bigger, better targeted initiatives to deliver the infrastructure needed to meet its long term goals for economic growth and a lower carbon economy, the UK’s independent advisers on infrastructure have said. The last year has seen progress towards major infrastructure objectives “stutter further just as...
Commission to review major projects planning policy
The National Infrastructure Commission has been asked to review the current approach to National Policy Statements (NPSs) and identify how the planning system could create greater certainty for infrastructure investors, developers and local communities. The independent advisory body has been commissioned to undertake the review as government prepares to publish an Action Plan on Nationally...
Commission welcomes Resilience Framework
The UK government has published a Resilience Framework that commits to taking forward the Commission’s recommendations on resilience standards for key infrastructure sectors and stress testing to help assure them. The strategy document – the first of its kind for the UK – pledges government action to “introduce standards on resilience and develop an action...
James Heath: Incentivising the delivery of resilient infrastructure
James Heath, Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, spoke at a roundtable event on Wednesday (30 November 2022) organised by Resilience First and PA Consulting, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office, on building a ‘whole society’ approach to national resilience. In his remarks, James reflected on how to incentivise behaviours that support building resilience....