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Sir John Armitt lands NIC chair role full-time

Sir John Armitt has replaced Lord Adonis as chair of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) on a permanent basis.

Sir John, who has been on the NIC since its launch in 2015, was appointed temporary chair on 5 January and was given the role permanently by chancellor Philip Hammond today.

The change in leadership was prompted by Lord Adonis’s shock departure from the NIC on 30 December.

In a candid resignation letter, Lord Adonis accused the government of having “no credible plan for the future of British trade” and vowed to contest Brexit plans from his position in the House of Lords.

The change comes at a critical time for the commission, which is scheduled to publish its National Infrastructure Assessment in the summer when it will set out a “vision” for UK infrastructure needs up to 2050.

Speaking about his appointment, Sir John said: “Making the right choices about planning and investing in infrastructure is critical to the UK’s prosperity and quality of life.

“I want the commission to remain focused on tackling the long-term issues of congestion, capacity and carbon – and to continue to hold the government to account where decisive action is needed – so we can secure the improvements that companies, communities and families need.”

Mr Hammond said: “The National Infrastructure Commission’s expertise is vital for ensuring the UK’s infrastructure is fit for the future. Sir John Armitt brings years of experience of UK infrastructure.

“With him at the helm, I am confident we will develop a strategic and ambitious infrastructure plan that supports economic growth for decades to come.”

Sir John, who served as chief executive of Costain from 1997 to 2001, expressed sympathy for contractors operating on low margins following the publication of the CN100 last year.

He told Construction News at the time: “Clients have got to come to terms with more collaborative form of contract, and they need to recognise that if contractors are going to have a sustainable business, taking work at 2 per cent margins is not sustainable for them or their shareholders.”

Sir John also served on the Airports Commission, which recommended a new runway should be built at Heathrow as opposed to Gatwick, and has served as CEO of Network Rail.

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