The National Infrastructure Commission has released its first Annual Monitoring Report, which found the government is “slow in taking decisive action” to address the UK’s infrastructure needs, including rail and air growth.
The report found further action is needed on several infrastructure projects, such as improving mobile phone coverage and digital connectivity on roads and railways and taking steps to begin the Crossrail 2 project, the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme, or expansion at Heathrow.
Last year, the NIC made recommendations and identified 12 infrastructure priorities that required government action.
Sir John Armitt, chairman of the NIC, said he was ‘disappointed’ in a lack of progress on these major projects, adding that “much greater urgency” is needed on many of them.
He continued: “It is hugely disappointing that nearly two years after the commission’s reports on Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, the government still has not firmly committed to a timetable for funding or got a clear plan for delivering either of these nationally significant projects. It is vital that decisions on both schemes are made this year and that the government commits to the long-term vision that supports the recommendations we made.”
According to the report, the lack of a funding plan for Crossrail 2 raises doubts that the project could be opened by 2033 as originally suggested. It also calls for more clarity on a timetable for funding the Northern Powerhouse Rail network, which includes the northern extension of High Speed 2 (HS2) and plans for the HS3 network.
Armitt also warned that the government needs to deliver on its promise of making a decision on Heathrow’s third runway by the summer.
“Any further delay would be irreconcilable with the government’s commitment to deliver the infrastructure the country needs.”
The report also called for the government to stick to its target of developing an aviation strategy to carry the UK through 2050 by the end of this year.
Read the full NIC report here.