National Infrastructure Commission
Parliamentary Committee backs Commission’s plan for stronger infrastructure resilience
A Parliamentary Committee has called on government to act quickly on National Infrastructure Commission recommendations to improve the resilience of key infrastructure services, in a hard hitting critique of government’s current approach to ensuring security of key national infrastructure.
In a report published yesterday (27 October 2022), the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy highlights past Commission calls to enhance regulatory oversight of resilience, and co-ordination between different regulators.
The Commission published a major report, Anticipate, React and Recover: Resilient infrastructure systems, in 2020. It called for government to set out a transparent set of resilience standards for all infrastructure sectors; for regulators to be given explicit duties to promote the resilience of their sectors; and for infrastructure operators to develop long-term resilience strategies and carry out regular stress tests overseen by the regulators.
A separate 2019 report by the Commission proposed that relevant regulators’ duties are updated to ensure they include a responsibility to promote resilience, and also called for greater collaboration between regulators to improve consistency between sectors.
The Commission’s standards and stress testing recommendations were broadly accepted by government in September 2021, with an indication they would be embedded in a forthcoming National Resilience Strategy. The Joint Committee echoes the Commission’s call for this Strategy to be published as soon as possible.
Yesterday’s Joint Committee report states: “Despite the major risks that we outline, there are no formal mechanisms for collaboration or information-sharing between Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors, and regulation is happening in siloes. We therefore call on the Government to use a range of mechanisms to improve collaboration on interdependencies and to improve its oversight of adaptation and resilience, including establishing a statutory forum for CNI regulators on climate adaptation, establishing clear resilience standards for CNI operators, and setting up a programme of stress testing CNI against extreme weather and other effects of climate change.”
Responding to the report, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission yesterday said:
“The Joint Committee’s report is another reminder that getting the governance of resilience right will be crucial to the success of attempts to adapt and respond to growing stresses on our infrastructure networks.
“Parliamentarians have reached the same conclusion as us: the UK urgently needs a more strategic and joined up approach to resilience, directed by government and overseen by regulators.
“We hope this added pressure will lead to the rapid publication of the National Resilience Strategy, to start the process of providing that strategic direction.”
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