Published: Thursday, 14th January 2016
The Government has launched a consultation on the governance and general modus operandi of the newly minted National Infrastructure Commission.
The commission is expected to produce long-term needs assessments and detailed reports on specific issues. The former will be known as the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA). The latter will be a series of priority infrastructure studies.
The sectors it will cover are the same as the Planning Act 2008 (energy, transport, water, waste water and waste) plus flood defences and digital communications.
What the commission will not do is reopen existing programmes like Smart Metering, the Roads Investment Strategy or the rail equivalent nor the recent decision of the independent Airports Commission.
The Government won’t have to do what the commission recommends, but it will have to say either how else it will meet the identified needs, or how it thinks the assessment is wrong. If the recommendations of a priority infrastructure study are endorsed by ministers, they become government policy and will be known as Endorsed Recommendations (ERs).
It is expected that ERs will incorporated into revised NPSs by government departments and will be material considerations when considering planning applications.
The commission’s remit will be set by the Chancellor and will be fiscal and economic. The Government has indicated that the commission will cover UK government areas, but can be invited by devolved administrations to work on their areas too.