National Infrastructure Commission
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Commission response to Energy Security Plan: steps forward, but questions remain

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, gave an initial response to the publication of the Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan and related documents today (30 March 2023) 

“Today’s set of announcements includes steps forward in some areas, but in others, based on what we’ve seen so far significant questions remain as to whether the scale of interventions will be sufficient to drive change quickly enough. We need to move from setting targets to delivering on the ground, making it easier for every household to make the greener choices necessary to meet our climate commitments.

“We welcomed the investment in CCUS when it was first announced and it is good to see further steps in forming carbon capture clusters. We must keep up this pace to ensure the UK regains pace in this internationally competitive sector.

“We look forward to seeing the promised draft national policy statements for energy. Once finalised, these should speed up decision making and help provide greater certainty to developers, investors and communities.

“The extension of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme will give it more time to make an impact, but without a drop in upfront costs for consumers it is difficult to see how it will prompt the necessary uptick in heat pump installations. The lack of a revised spending commitment means it is hard to assess the contribution the scheme will make to government’s own target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

“The intention to rebalance gas and electricity prices will help reduce the operating costs of heat pumps, electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies. The sooner this can be achieved, the better.

“The Commission will continue to monitor delivery of infrastructure commitments made as a result of our own recommendations. Shortly we will publish a report on the planning regime for major infrastructure projects, and later this year we will publish our second National Infrastructure Assessment to look ahead to the next phase of the net zero journey, including the infrastructure networks needed to underpin CCUS and hydrogen technologies.”

Earlier this week the Commission published its Infrastructure Progress Review 2023, which identified that while good progress was being made on delivering a highly renewable electricity system for the UK, little progress had been made by government on energy efficiency or decarbonising heating over the last year.

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