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NIC says infrastructure delays now 'matter of urgency'

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called on the government to speed up progress on a number of major projects as “a matter of urgency”.

The NIC’s first annual monitoring report released today assesses the government’s progress on infrastructure projects to which it has committed.

The report highlights a number a large projects that are at risk of falling behind.

It says the government has failed to produce concrete plans for transport connectivity in the North of England, and that calls for further reviews of Crossrail 2 risk delaying the £31bn project.

The NIC has called on the government to set out “clear timetables and funding proposals for Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail” in the next 10 months.

It also said a hybrid bill for Crossrail 2 should be submitted by autumn 2019 in order for the line to open by 2033. This completion date would coincide with the completion of HS2’s phase two.

The NIC warned that the longer it took for the government to make a decision on Crossrail 2, the greater the risk that more money will be needed to develop the plans in addition to the £80m already provided.

It was also highly critical of the delay in making a decision on expanding airport capacity, which former chair Lord Adonis previously branded a “national disgrace”.

The government is due to publish a National Policy Statement on expansion of Heathrow in the first half of this year, and the NIC said that parliament must vote on the proposals this summer “without further delay”.

Delays on the Silvertown Tunnel and rolling out the 5G network for mobile data were also highlighted.

However, the NIC praised the progress made on modernising the UK’s electricity grid, as well as upgrade schemes for the M56 and M62 in the North of England. It also said that HS2 was “on track”.

NIC chairman Sir John Armitt (pictured) said: “The commission finds that further action is required to provide the UK’s growing population and economy with the infrastructure it needs to thrive and compete on the global stage.”

The NIC will present its National Infrastructure Assessment in the next few months.

This will set out its recommendations for the UK’s infrastructure needs over the next 30 years, to which the government is required to formally respond.

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