A major call for evidence
Before next year’s Budget, Britain’s independent National Infrastructure Commission will publish on “three national challenges”:
[National Infrastructure Commission call for evidence, gov.uk, 13 Nov 2015]
* Improving connectivity between cities in the north of England
* Large-scale transport infrastructure improvements in London
* Improving how electricity demand and supply are balanced.
[…] For each of these studies, we will engage with the relevant government departments, regulators and delivery organisations, including Network Rail, TfL and the National Grid as we develop our thinking. We are also keen to gather evidence and ideas from local government, businesses, service providers, users and others to support and shape this work.
Hence this call for evidence, which sets out the key questions for each of the three reports.
We look forward to receiving submissions, and thank you in advance for your engagement.
The Call for Evidence will allow the National Infrastructure Commission’s work on these studies to draw upon a wide evidence base and spectrum of options.
One of the problems with the idea of a national infrastructure commission is its likely propensity to look for infrastructure-based ‘solutions’ to problems which might be better addressed in another way.
Another question is how ‘independent’ the Commission’s decision-making would be.
[Current members of The National Infrastructure Commission]
Andrew Adonis (interim ‘chair’)
Sir John Armitt
Professor Tim Besley
Sir Paul Ruddock
Improving connectivity between cities in the north of England would, no doubt, require significant investment in infrastructure. To plan such works effectively, one would need access to a great deal of up-to-date quantitative data. But open data on transport demand and suchlike is severely deficient (for example, because of rail and bus privatisation).
All in all, the prognosis is not too good. It seems likely that much of the ‘evidence’ submitted to the NIC will just be the usual special-interest and wonk-tank fare.