UK – The UK should launch an independent body charged with identifying and planning for the country's long-term infrastructure needs, a report by the chairman of London's Olympic Delivery Authority has said.
Emulating the approach taken by Infrastructure Australia and Singapore's Urban Development Authority, the UK should establish the National Infrastructure Commission to regularly assess the UK's infrastructure needs in key areas over a time horizon of three decades, the report led by John Armitt said.
Commissioned by the opposition Labour Party, the paper said there was a need for "evidence-based assessment" of all projects and that, to allow for their delivery, cross-party consensus was required despite the "confrontational" nature of politics in the UK.
Armitt noted in the report's introduction that absence of political consensus was viewed as problematic.
"At the front-end of the investment cycle, we seem to encounter problems – understanding why we must invest, what we must build, how and when we are going to deliver projects and then sticking to decisions," he said.
"What are often missing are the enabling factors of cross-party support and clear objectives."
The report touched on the subject of political risk, noting that both it and policy risk were "perceived to be growing", with the result that "investor confidence has been undermined".
The launch of an independent National Infrastructure Commission, to conduct assessments not limited "by any shorter-term affordability constraints" should therefore be considered.
"Every 10 years, the National Infrastructure Commission would produce a National Infrastructure Assessment looking at the UK's needs over a 25-30 year time horizon," the report said.
"To better capture interdependencies, this Assessment would consider all of the infrastructure sectors within the Commission's remit in parallel, rather than looking at individual sectors in isolation."
It further recommended that individual sector plans – covering areas within its remit, such as transport and water – would then be devised, offering timescale proposals and "the preferred vehicle(s) for delivering infrastructure investment".
Alan Buckle, partner at KPMG and a member of the Armitt Commission, said the proposed independent commission would pave the way for a "dispassionate and evidence-based assessment" of the UK's need for infrastructure.
"Only with the clarity of a long-term infrastructure plan will we unlock the more than £40bn (€47bn) per annum of public and private money the UK needs to invest in its infrastructure to remain competitive in the global economy," he said.
A recent report by Llewellyn Consulting and Pension Insurance Corporation advocated the creation of a National Investment Bank to raise funds for large infrastructure projects independently of government.
IPE and Stirling Capital Partners are co-hosting a conference, Infrastructure for Pension Funds and Other Capital Owners, to take place on 2 October in London. For more information, click here.
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