Regulation & Resilience

Effective policies and regulation are needed to help infrastructure sectors to prepare for an uncertain future.

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Summary

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

Latest Updates

Jim Hall: clear national standards vital to improved extreme weather resilience
Picture showing storm clouds over the Isle of Wight

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...

6 Dec 2023 By
Jim Hall: Clarity on funding, clear targets crucial to long term flood resilience
flooded house with sandbags at front door

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...

15 Nov 2023 By
Long term review sets out pressing need to modernise infrastructure to support economic growth and climate action
Scout Moor windarm and the Naden Reservoirs near Rochdale

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...

18 Oct 2023 By
Second National Infrastructure Assessment
Scout Moor windarm and the Naden Reservoirs near Rochdale

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

18 Oct 2023
National Infrastructure Assessment
View of Manchester city centre

National Infrastructure Assessment

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

18 Oct 2023
Commission welcomes net zero duty for Ofgem
A wind turbine and electricity pylon

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...

7 Jun 2023 By
Letter to Ofwat on water company asset management
Workers repairing a storm sewer

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...

19 May 2023 By
NIC and CCC call for urgent action to protect infrastructure from climate risks
Wind turbines against a stormy sky

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:...

27 Apr 2023 By
Stronger coordination of environment and community benefit needed to get planning timescales back on track
T-pylons under construction

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...

18 Apr 2023 By
Go big where it counts to hit economic and climate goals, says Commission
Front cover image from IPR

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...

27 Mar 2023 By
Infrastructure Progress Review 2023
IPR 2023 front cover montage

Infrastructure Progress Review 2023

Our annual monitoring report on government progress towards major infrastructure objectives.

27 Mar 2023
Commission to review major projects planning policy
A solar farm in a field

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...

10 Feb 2023 By
Commission welcomes Resilience Framework
Picture showing storm clouds over the Isle of Wight

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...

20 Dec 2022 By
James Heath: Incentivising the delivery of resilient infrastructure
Lightning storm in Nottingham

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....

1 Dec 2022 By

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