This Government are committed to reversing the effects of historic under-investment and equipping the UK with world-class infrastructure.
The Government are today publishing the “National Infrastructure Plan 2013”, which updates their plan for the next decade and beyond, and announcing a package of measures which will further support their ambition.
Economic regulators’ study
The Government recognise the value of fully independent regulation for economic infrastructure, and remain committed to this system. There is nevertheless scope for broader consideration of the way regulators work together and with the Government on issues related to cross-sectoral infrastructure delivery. They have therefore initiated a joint HMT/BIS study to look particularly at developing better joint working, more clearly explaining the role of economic regulation, and facilitating cross-sector infrastructure investment. Recommendations from the study will be made in spring 2014.
Broadband fund and local procurement
The Government will open a £10 million competitive fund in 2014 to market test innovative solutions, delivering superfast broadband services to the most difficult-to-reach areas of the UK; the Government will continue to support local bodies to develop appropriate strategies to procure additional coverage in areas not covered by current plans, using the £250 million allocated at spending round 2013.
Public Works Loan Board (PWLB)
The Government are allocating the remaining £800 million of borrowing at the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) project rate as part of growth deals. This will be available to LEPs working in partnership with local authorities in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and allocated on a competitive basis alongside the single local growth fund.
The Government are also announcing that local authorities in Scotland and Wales will have access to the Public Works Loan Board project rate to support priority infrastructure projects. A total of £400 million of borrowing will be available from 2014-15 to 2015-16, subject to agreement with the devolved Administrations on the precise mechanics and conditions.
Airport surface access
The Government are today taking forward measures proposed by the Airports Commission by introducing a package of improvements to airport surface access. These measures include making available £50 million for a full redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick airport (subject to satisfactory commercial negotiations with the airport), setting up a new study into Southern Rail access to Heathrow, and including access to Stansted on a current study of the East Anglian mainline.
Sir Howard Davies’ letter recommending these measures has today been published on the Airports Commission’s website.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Government will support the London Legacy Development Corporation and Mayor of London in developing their plans for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park. This includes plans for a new higher education and cultural quarter on the park, in partnership with University College London and the Victoria and Albert museum.
Ultra-low emission vehicles
The Government will invest £5 million during 2014-15 in a large-scale electric vehicle readiness programme for public sector fleets. The programme aims to promote the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles, demonstrating clear leadership by the public sector to encourage future widespread acceptance.
River Thames Garden Bridge
The Government will provide a £30 million contribution to support the construction of a new Garden Bridge across the River Thames in London. This will supplement funding from Transport for London and private donations.
The Government will provide funding to support improvements to the A50 around Uttoxeter starting no later than 2015-16 (subject to statutory procedures) to support local growth, jobs and housing; this project will be subject to the usual developer contributions.
The Government are confirming that there will be no tolling on the planned A14 scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon (one of its “top 40” priority investments), construction of which is planned to start in 2016; it has listened to concerns from local residents and businesses who rely on this road and, following a consultation, have decided to take forward a scheme which does not include a tolling element
The Government will review the legislative and regulatory framework to ensure there is a clear and appropriate regime for the testing of driverless cars that supports the world’s car companies to come to develop and test them here. The review will report at the end of 2014.
The Government will also provide a prize fund of £10 million for a town or city to develop as a test site for consumer testing of driverless cars.
The Government are today announcing the “strike prices” for key renewable energy generation technologies from 2015-16 to 2018-19. These prices confirm the level of support that private sector developers will be guaranteed to be paid for their electricity through a top-up from the wholesale price, under the new electricity market reform regime.
The Government will announce further details on contract terms by the end of 2013.
Judicial Review Reform
The Government will establish a specialist planning court with set deadlines to accelerate the handling of cases, take forward work to ensure that minor procedural claims are dealt with proportionally and allow appeals to “leapfrog” directly to the Supreme Court in a wider range of circumstances.
The Government want to ensure that households benefit from development in their local area. Building on the measures already in place (including the neighbourhood funding element of the community infrastructure levy and the new homes bonus), the Government will work with industry, local authorities and other interested parties to develop a pilot passing a share of the benefits of development directly to individual households.
The Government are taking further steps to speed up the town and country planning system.
The Government will consult on measures to improve plan making, including a statutory requirement to put a local plan in place.
The Government will legislate to treat planning conditions as approved where an authority has failed to discharge a condition on time, and will consult on legislative measures to strengthen the requirement for planning authorities to justify any conditions that must be discharged before building can start.
The Government will consult to reduce the number of applications where unnecessary statutory consultations occur and pilot a single point of contact for cases where conflicting advice is provided by key statutory consultees.
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project Planning Review
The Government are today launching a review of the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime and are publishing a discussion document on making this regime even more effective.
The Government will freeze planning application fees for the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime for at least the remainder of this Parliament.
“Top 40” Planning Applications
To support the delivery of “ the top 40”, the Government will ensure where possible that these projects have the option to use the regime. These projects and programmes have been identified by Government as critical priorities for delivery and, while each application to use the nationally significant infrastructure regime must be considered on its merits, Government will have regard to this “top 40” designation in those considerations.
National Networks National Policy Statement
Alongside the national infrastructure plan the Government have published the National Networks National Policy Statement (NPS) for consultation and parliamentary scrutiny
UK Guarantee Scheme
The Government have agreed the terms of a UK Guarantee facility with the GLA to support up to £1 billion of borrowing for the construction of the Northern line extension to Battersea power station (subject to a satisfactory Transport and Works Act order). This in turn has facilitated a commercial agreement between the GLA, Transport for London and the developers at Battersea power station for the redevelopment of the site.
In addition the Government have approved a guarantee for a £10 million deal under the scheme to help provide finance for the installation of energy-saving lighting equipment across a portfolio of car parks managed and operated by National Car Parks Limited (NCP) resulting in a 60% reduction in energy consumption.
And the Government have confirmed that they have entered into a co-operation agreement with Hitachi and Horizon with the aim of being able to agree an in-principle guarantee by the end of 2016 to support the financing of a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa Newydd, subject to final due diligence and ministerial approval.
UK Insurance Growth Action Plan
As part of the Government’s “UK Insurance Growth Action Plan”, also published today, UK insurers have agreed to work alongside partners with the aim of delivering at least £25 billion of investment in UK infrastructure over the next five years, including, but not restricted to, projects in the published infrastructure pipeline.
The Government have identified further assets with the potential for sale and the target for the sale of corporate and financial assets will be increased from £10 billion to £20 billion between 2014 and 2020.
Copies of the “National Infrastructure Plan 2013” will be available on the gov.uk website and have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.