NIC: Govt should do fewer things on energy transition

The UK government needs to do fewer things, but do them faster and bigger, the chief executive of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has said.

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Speaking at the UK Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, James Heath said that the government will need to implement a range of policy and regulatory approaches to make the UK’s infrastructure opportunities investable - but also said there needs to be a greater focus from government on what it delivers.

“In some areas, options will need to be closed down - even if that means taking some strategic bets, all of which may not fully pay off in the long run,” he said. “Government won’t meet its ambitions with years of repeated consultations. Pace, not perfection, must become the mantra.”

His comments chime with the sentiments expressed at a roundtable hosted by Burges Salmon and chaired by Partnerships Bulletin in March this year, where investors expressed a desire to see more focus from government on where it wanted private sector involvement.

Heath added that the next iteration of the National Infrastructure Assessment - due this autumn - would also urge “policy stability and staying power”, arguing that there has been “too much chopping and changing across infrastructure policy” in recent years, which creates uncertainty for investors.

He also suggested that there needs to be more focus from government on connecting up core sites of hydrogen and carbon capture & storage (CCS) users, producers and stores to form transmission networks.

“To stimulate private sector investment, government will need to provide potential users, producers, storers and transporters of carbon and hydrogen with clarity on the extent of the core networks that are envisaged and the business models to support them,” he said.