UK: How 40 Infrastructure Projects Means Many More

Last Updated: 1 December 2011
Article by Angus Walker

This is entry number 300, published on 30 November 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.

Today's entry reports on the announcement of 40 priority infrastructure projects - and programmes.

Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, delivered his autumn statement on the nation's finances. To accompany this, Treasury body Infrastructure UK published its second National Infrastructure Plan (NIP). Incidentally, the debate on the Ports National Policy Statement was unfinished yesterday and will be concluded today.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP announced in October that the government would set out the 40 infrastructure projects that it would give new special priority status to, and this was to be via the NIP. So what does it actually say? There is indeed a list of 40 items, but few of them are single projects - they are mostly packages of projects or funding programmes. Here is a unique list of the 40 'projects and programmes' and how many projects they actually involve. The ones marked 'future' are unknown as yet, because they are still at the bidding stage.


Project or programme



4G mobile auction and rollout



Alternative approaches to resolving issues along the A14 corridor



Carbon Capture and Storage investment






East Coast Main Line



Electricity and gas transmission and distribution investment



Electricity generation – biomass investment



Electricity generation – gas investment (CCGT)



Electricity generation – new nuclear investment



Electricity generation – wind energy investment



Fixed broadband investment – private and public



Flood and coastal erosion risk management programme (including Thames Estuary 2100)



Gatwick capital investment programme



Great Western Electrification



Growing Places Fund



Heathrow capital investment programme



High Speed Two (subject to consultation)



Highways Agency – Autumn Statement package



Highways Agency managed motorways programme – Spending Review projects



Highways Agency programme in construction –pre-2010 Spending Review



Highways Agency trunk road improvements programme – 2010 Spending Review projects



Intercity Express Programme



Kings Cross Station improvements



Local authority major transport schemes –development pool projects



Local transport projects – funded at or before 2010 Spending Review



London Underground investment programme



Mersey Gateway Bridge



New Lower Thames crossing



Northern Line Extension to Battersea



Northern rail connectivity (Liverpool-Newcastle including Northern Hub)



Ports – container terminal projects



Ports – renewable energy projects



Rail infrastructure and rolling stock enhancement



Reading upgrade programme



Regional Growth Fund



Rural mobile coverage



Smart meters



Thames Tideway Tunnel






Urban broadband fund


Adding up just the known ones comes to 290 projects - most of which are those in the Regional Growth Fund.

In terms of funding, the government is committing £5bn of new money to these by 2015 and another £5bn after that (which is hardly a commitment), which together with £20bn to be leveraged from pension funds will inject £30bn into these projects. Note that the second project on the list is code for introducing road tolling on new sections of the A14, which will generate some more money.

The government has resisted spending its own (or rather our) money on infrastructure projects but is now doing so, albeit at a low level (Institute of Fiscal Studies: "pretty small"). I have already heard this being dubbed 'Plan A++' and 'Plan A-', as an amendment to the deficit-reduction Plan A.

Planning changes

The NIP also mentions a few changes to the system for consenting major infrastructure projects (on page 10). The government chose not to fold more consents into the Planning Act 2008 regime via the Localism Act, but instead is going to tighten up systems for consents from other bodies.

  • they will be required to issue their consents within 13 weeks;
  • they will be subject to a test of acting in the interests of sustainable development;
  • they will become more vulnerable to awards of costs against them for unreasonable behavour;
  • the Habitats regime is seen as a particular brake on development and the government is going to look at reducing delay and cost associated with it; and
  • finally, and perhaps to be welcomed most of all, the government will be looking to introduce more flexibility into the Planning Act 2008 process - the pre-application stage in particular - as a consequence of reviewing regulations necessitated by the abolition of the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

These changes will of course be reported as they are developed and introduced. 300 blog entries and counting - thank you for reading!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Angus Walker
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