Apr 30, 2021

The National Infrastructure Strategy – homes and buildings

The National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS) incorporates aspects of The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Both of these plans show a direction or travel towards greening the economy and decarbonisation but lack clear timeframes, objectives and key details. This NIS reflects the first National Infrastructure Assessment conducted in 2018 and sees a shift from overreliance on major individual projects and towards a more integrated approach to benefit more individual regions. We hope to see this improving local communities and distributing net zero carbon advancements fairly across the nation.

To summarise, the main aims of the NIS are:

  • Public and private investment on economic or networked infrastructure (mainly on energy, transport, flood management and digital communications).
  • Deliver an infrastructure revolution in line with net zero and decarbonising the economy for “fairer, faster, greener” transport.
  • Accelerate the delivery of major infrastructure schemes.
  • Record investment for railways, strategic roads, broadband networks and flood defences to benefit the whole of the UK.

Key areas of funding and plans set out in this strategy include the following:

Homes and other buildings:
  • £5.2b on flood management through 2,000 defence schemes protecting 336,000 properties over 6 years.
  • £320m available through a heat networks investment project. The Future Homes Standard will be introduced in the shortest timeframe possible before 2025, with 1.7m new heating systems needed a year by 2030 (up from 30,000 currently), of which the Government aims to deliver 600,000 heat pump installations by 2028.
  • The NIS states that 65% of electricity in the UK will be from renewable sources by 2030, but that this is not a ‘strict target’ which means there will be no accountability should this target not be met.
  • A national investment bank will be set up in the North of England to fill a hole left by the European investment bank with a share of £4b‘levelling up’ fund to help cities, towns and regions improve infrastructure and skills.
Other infrastructure:
  • £5b for public transport and cycling infrastructure and £27b for a roads programme and support for HS2.
  • £1.3b in charging infrastructure to accelerate the mass adoption of EVs ahead of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
  • £240m net zero hydrogen fund and £81m is pledged for starting a hydrogen neighbourhood trial by 2023 and a large village trial by 2025.
  • £525m investment in nuclear power with aims for “at least one large scale nuclear” to get to the final point of investment decision by the end of the current parliament.

What does this mean for the future?

According to the NIS, the UK has already reduced emissions by 45% since 1990 whilst growing the economy and minimising costs, causing a net reduction in household bills. The government is keen to continue, with HM Treasury currently undertaking a review to see how the transition to net zero could be funded and where costs could fall. This will aim to ensure the cost is shared across society between consumers, taxpayers and the private sector and to overcome barriers to investment in new technologies. One of the routes to achieve this involves investing in fuel poor households and social housing to reduce bills for the poorest and more vulnerable in society. In the longer term creating the right regulation and tax measures will be imperative to ensure affordability.

The NIS only represents a part of the plan – decarbonisation and the ‘levelling up’ agenda must wait for a host of other government announcements including a Heat and Buildings Strategy, The Transport Decarbonisation Plan and The EV Charging Infrastructure Strategy before seeing considerable action. In order to achieve change the government need to align these plans to create clear targets and goals to achieve net zero by 2050 and we hope to see future documents providing clarity and key details on delivering decarbonisation.

If you would like assistance to develop a net zero roadmap that takes current legislation into account, please get in touch: https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/contact/