UK Infra Assessment: Private investment needs £10bn increase

Second National Infrastructure Assessment recommends hydrogen and carbon capture progress will require some public sector risk to attract private investment; government should take lead on decarbonising homes

The UK National Infrastructure Commission has published its second annual National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA), calling on the government to introduce a range of measures today that will set the landscape for infrastructure delivery over the next 30 years.

It suggests that private sector investment in UK infrastructure will need to grow from around £30-40bn over the last decade to £40-50bn in the 2030s and 2040s.

Among the key recommendations of the NIA is for the government to commit to electrification as “the only viable option for decarbonising buildings at scale”, and argues the government should fully subsidise the costs of installing a heat pump for one third of households (based on income) and offer £7,000 support to all others to switch to a heat pump or heat network.

It also calls for “an urgent and comprehensive review of rail priorities for the North and the Midlands” following the government’s recent decision to abandon its High Speed Two plans.

On energy generation, the NIA says government should ensure policy “actively encourages industrial decarbonisation”. It warned that current uncertainty around the scale and use of hydrogen and carbon capture facilities means that the private sector is “unwilling to take on all this risk alone”. 

It therefore recommends that the government should provide “coordination and support and take on some risk in order for networks to be developed”.

The document also highlights the need to improve recycling rates, including recommending phasing out energy from waste plants that do not include carbon capture facilities. This could have implications for a number of current PFI plants across the country.

In his foreword, National Infrastructure Commission chair, Sir John Armitt, warned of the importance of speed in delivering the infrastructure of tomorrow.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in time, with the opportunity to make a major difference to this country’s future,” he said. “But we need to get on with it.”

To read the report in full, click here.