Housing must be at the heart of plans to boost the economy by spending on infrastructure, former ICE President Sir John Armitt told Treasury chief secretary David Gauke in October.
He also urged ministers to address interdependencies of the different infrastructure sectors when making spending decisions.
Armitt set out the nation’s infrastructure needs for the next 35 years to Gauke and an audience of MPs, government officials and construction bosses on 19 October.
Nna launch event 1cropped
Launching the National Needs Assessment’s (NNA) vision for UK infrastructure to 2050, Armitt said: “The UK will invest efficiently, affordably and sustainably in infrastructure assets and services that will drive the economic growth necessary to enhance the UK’s position in the global economy, support a high quality of life and realise a low carbon future.”
The NNA says that by 2050, the UK population will be 75M – requiring 300,000 new houses a year, UK GDP will increase to £3.7 trillion and energy demand will increase by 30%. Using modelling from the University of Oxford-led Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium the NNA concludes that existing UK infrastructure is unable to support this rise in demand.
Armitt said investment in the energy, transport and digital sectors will help the industry meet the demands for future infrastructure. And he said that housing must form part of a strategy to boost economic growth using infrastructure.
“This assessment is not a list of projects, and the UK cannot afford to spend its way out of challenges by building more capacity. Technology, supported by the right policies, will enable new and existing infrastructure to be used much more efficiently.
“The county needs a clear strategy, management and establishment of critical standards for our infrastructure to sustain and improve quality of life and business competitiveness in a modern and evolving world. If we don’t, we will lose out on many opportunities, particularly in a post-Brexit economy.”
The “nexus” of energy, transport and digital sectors will have the biggest impact on future infrastructure and have a number of interdependencies, said Armitt.
“The scenarios modelled show energy and transport have the largest interdependencies. For example, the electrification in transport that is needed to meet decarbonisation targets will have a direct impact on our electricity consumption.
“In fact, the research shows without management, electricity demand could almost double. Government needs to address this with a balanced policy.
“Infrastructure policies should transcend political cycles across all infrastructure sectors but particularly for energy. We have already seen investors deterred from backing carbon capture and photovoltaic panels due to changing UK policy.
- To find out more about the National Needs Assessment, visit www.ice.org.uk/nna