National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) chair Sir John Armitt has called on the government to set a low-carbon route out of the Coronavirus lockdown. In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Armitt says that the low-carbon agenda can provide both short term economic stimulus and a more resilient infrastructure for the long term.
The NIC says setting out long-term strategic guidance now on policy and regulation will be critical, alongside direct government funding, as it will stimulate private sector investment. First on the list is a strong pipeline of Contracts for Difference auctions for onshore and offshore wind and solar PV, which he describes as a “quick win”.
The letter says, “The economy runs on confidence, and government has a critical role to play in instilling this among investors, businesses and consumers. Confidence can be won, and crucially private investment can be unlocked, by government setting out a long-term infrastructure strategy and continuing with front-end planning for longer-term schemes – even if any construction work may be some years away.” The Commission wants government policy to incentivise private investment in new power and heating technologies such as hydrogen alongside existing technologies.
In the short term, the Commission calls for stimulus measures to accelerate ways of locking in a lower carbon economy, through energy efficiency measures, gigabit broadband roll-out and further investment in decarbonising our energy sources.
Armitt calls on Chancellor to produce a long-expected National Infrastructure Strategy as part of wider recovery plans and promises more ‘public reflections’ on the form such a strategy should take.
Read the letter in full here