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Ministers respond to National Infrastructure Commission reports

Published: Thursday, 21st April 2016

The government has responded to the three National Infrastructure Commission reports published in March just before the Budget.

It has accepted the recommendations on a London Crossrail 2 and its potential to help deliver up to 200,000 new homes in and around the capital.

Ministers have also supported the idea that a so-called ‘HS3’, a high speed east-west network should be prioritised.

The government has committed to working with Network Rail, HS2 and others to prepare an integrated strategy by the end of 2017 that includes the upgrade of the Manchester to Leeds line, the northern end of HS2 and the redevelopment of Manchester Piccadilly station.

On roads the NIC urged that money should be committed to upgrades to the M56 J6-8, the Lofthouse and Simister Island junctions, and the M1 J35a-39.

The government says the first is already committed and development work on the others will be carried out by 2020. In addition the NIC recommended that Highways England, the DfT and Transport for the North should work together on longer-term studies.

The government has agreed and has committed £75m to the A66/A69, Manchester North-West Quadrant and a Trans-Pennine Tunnel studies, with conclusions by the end of this year.

The three NIC reports were titled Transport for a World City, High Speed North and Smart Power. In the case of the latter, which recommended more power links with other countries, specifically Iceland and Norway, ministers have upped the amount of connectivity supported from five gigawatts to nine gigawatts.

Commenting on the government response planning and infrastructure guru Angus Walker from legal firm BDB highlighted an important point about the phrasing of the government’s response. “There is no suggestion of ‘endorsing’ the recommendations, which forms the backbone of the process proposed in the recent consultation on how the commission will operate.”

He added: “the government is not officially endorsing any recommendations just yet.”

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Roger Milne