Infrastructure commission set to become executive agency

13 Oct 16

The National Infrastructure Commission will in January become an executive agency of the Treasury with its own budget, chancellor Philip Hammond has said.

His move came after the Neighbourhood Planning Bill in September unexpectedly omitted any provision to formally establish the commission’s status, despite this having been trailed in the Queen’s Speech.

The NIC was launched last March to advise the government on the need for infrastructure and project viability.

Hammond said it would become an autonomous executive agency, governed by a charter.

This provides that when the NIC makes recommendations the government will issue a formal response normally within six months stating whether it accepts these, and will give reasons where it disagrees.

The charter commits the NIC to deliver a National Infrastructure Assessment once in every Parliament, setting out its opinion of long-term infrastructure needs.

It will also undertake studies on “pressing infrastructure challenges as set by the government” and issue an annual monitoring report.

The NIC issued a ‘call for ideas’ to inform its next in-depth study topic, following its earlier reports on Crossrail 2, Northern connectivity and electricity generation.  

Hammond said: “We are putting the National Infrastructure Commission at the very heart of our plans to ensure Britain’s infrastructure is fit for the future.

“It will independently define our long-term infrastructure needs and help prioritise, plan and ensure value for money as this investment creates a modern Britain ­– fit to take on the world.”

Open recruitment will be used to find a permanent chair and additional commissioners.

The NIC’s interim chair is the former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis and former Network Rail chief executive Sir John Armitt has been named interim deputy chair.

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