Chancellor must commit to ‘once-in-a-generation’ transport and energy transformations

Chancellor Philip Hammond must commit to a ‘once-in-a-generation’ transformation of the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) and energy networks, ahead of this autumn’s Spending Review.

This is the view of National Infrastructure Commission Chair Sir John Armitt, who wrote a letter to the Chancellor laying out four tests which the Commission will be judging the credibility of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, which is expected to be announced at the review.

Last year, the Commission published the UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment, which set out a series of recommendations for how the UK should develop its transport and energy networks over the next 30 years, as well as other sectors including water and technology.

The assessment called for a ‘truly national and visible’ charging network for electric vehicles through subsidies in areas where the private sector won’t deliver in the short term, and through councils allocating a portion of their parking spaces for future charging points.

It also called for half of the UK’s power provided by renewables by 2030 and three-quarters of plastic packaging recycled by 2030.

The government is required to consider the proposals and formally respond with its own strategy.

Sir John warned: ‘Building the right infrastructure for the mid-21st century will help Britain shape a new national and global identity. One built on optimism and confidence.

‘The government must not deliver a weak strategy that pays only lip service to our recommendations. We don’t want to hear vague promises and a restatement of existing commitments.’

Armitt’s key tests are:

  • A long term perspective that looks beyond the immediate spending review period.
  • Clear goals and plans to achieve them to ensure the Commission can easily check progress.
  • 1.2% of GDP a year invested in infrastructure.
  • A genuine commitment to change.

A European Automobile Manufacturers Association study released last week revealed that Germany and France sold almost double the number of EVs than the UK during 2018.

Photo credit – Flickr – EU2017EE

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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