Transport East reaction to the National Infrastructure Commission’s second national infrastructure assessment
Transport East welcomes calls from the National Infrastructure Commission to increase transport infrastructure funding by 20 per cent, and recommendations for long-term funding allocations to local authorities responsible for transport.
Today, the National Infrastructure Commission released their ‘Second National Infrastructure Assessment’. The Commission is an Executive Agency of HM Treasury, providing government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges including transport. Every five years the Commission publishes a National Infrastructure Assessment setting out analysis of long-term infrastructure needs, with recommendations to government.
Key recommendations within the report which, should the government adopt them, would benefit transport in the East include:
- New five-year transport budgets for all county councils and unitary authorities by the end of 2025 enough to cover maintenance, renewals and small to medium enhancements. We, and our partners, have consistently made the case to government that our local authorities need greater certainty and flexibility of funding for transport networks.
- Government should support £8 billion a year of investment in local transport outside London. This represents a 20 per cent increase on current spending levels.
- Government should complete of East West Rail and a portfolio of targeted rail network enhancements across the country.
- Accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle public charge points. This aligns with our recent analysis of provision in the East which identified 15,000 new chargers would be needed by 2030 to meet forecast demand.
- Accelerating the transition to a decarbonised energy supply and investing in infrastructure to keep pace with increased demands to fuel transport in the future, both electricity and hydrogen.
The report also recommends ongoing Government engagement with Sub-national Transport Bodies, including Transport East, on transport infrastructure requirements and investment, including through the development of an Integrated Transport Strategy.
Areas of concern
However, we are disappointed to see the lack of recognition of the East’s specific transport infrastructure needs by the National Infrastructure Commission in their second national infrastructure assessment.
The focus of the NIC on economic growth in metropolitan urban areas, overlooks the dispersed economic model of the East which has been one of the fastest growing over the last decade and forecast to grow by another 500,000 people by 2041. The focus on urban centres for decarbonisation does not recognise that in the East, half of the region’s transport emissions come from non-urban areas. The Commission’s analysis also underrepresents the importance of the movement of goods. As the region with the highest number of ports and airports, the East plays an essential role in connecting the rest of the UK to international markets and supports growth in major cities including in the North and Midlands.
Commenting on the report, Andrew Summers, Chief Executive Officer, Transport East said:
“We support the National Infrastructure Commission’s view that local authorities need both more funding and more funding certainty to keep local transport networks operating smoothly and improve sustainable connections. This is something we and our partners have communicated strongly to government.
However, the report does not set out the infrastructure requirements needed in the East that are vital to support UK trade and deliver net zero. We clearly set out these requirements in the East’s Transport Strategy published this year and now accepted by government.
We ask the Commission to work more closely with Transport East to make sure the East’s requirements are accurately reflected in advice to government to inform future transport investment.”
Transport East responded to the NIC’s call for evidence to inform this review in February 2022. The Government is expected to respond formally to the Assessment within 12 months.