761: NIC gives a kick as BEIS delays
Today’s entry reports on two infrastructure project developments.
National Infrastructure Commission statement
Yesterday, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) issued a ‘post-election statement’ setting out twelve projects and programmes that ‘require urgent action’.
Possibly in order of priority, they are:
- Heathrow runway 3;
- High Speed 2;
- ‘High Speed 3’ (now called Northern Powerhouse Rail, actually, but perhaps you’ve got to begin with H to be a priority);
- Crossrail 2;
- collectively the Silvertown Tunnel, the Lower Thames Crossing and a third east London road crossing;
- flexible power systems;
- renewable energy;
- decarbonisation of energy;
- Hinkley Point C;
- broadband and mobile;
- 5G mobile; and
- water and flood defence infrastructure.
Like films, project sequels seem to be doing better than new ones.
New metro mayors and other local authority leaders are not off the hook: they are urged to identify strategic infrastructure priorities for their areas as well. For each of the above 12, ‘key decision points’ are identified, and the NIC will issue updates on progress (‘or lack of it’) on them.
Chair of the NIC, Lord Andrew Adonis, made some stronger accompanying remarks, saying it would be a ‘calamity’ if there were a ‘hard’ Brexit, which could mean the end of Heathrow expansion.
It’s good that the NIC is making itself heard, and prioritising infrastructure is certainly something that the government needs reminding of given its other preoccupations. Let us hope that this spurs action on the decisions mentioned.
Delays to DCO decisions
With somewhat unfortunate timing, on the very same day the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Greg Clark MP, issued a written statement in parliament delaying decisions on two Development Consent Order (DCO) applications.
The statement can be found here. The two projects in question are:
- The Richborough Connection project, the onshore section of the proposed ‘Nemo’ interconnector with Belgium, whose decision was due on 8 June but has been delayed until 8 August; and
- The East Anglia Three offshore wind farm project, which has been delayed from tomorrow, 28 June also until 8 August.
Luckily neither of these are decisions specifically referred to by the NIC under items 5 and 6 above. BEIS have now delayed five of the 45 decisions whose original dates have passed (or will have passed by this week), compared with one out of 19 for the Department for Transport and none out of three for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. That’s still a pretty good hit rate.