Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Developing major infrastructure projects across the UK

Morning, Wednesday, 6th January 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will be a timely opportunity to consider the next steps for UK infrastructure - following the Government’s ambitions around scaling up development, accelerating an infrastructure-led economic recovery, and with the National Infrastructure Strategy expected later this year.

Why this is relevant - the context:

It takes place:

  • As the Government begins to develop an economic recovery plan to rebuild key sectors of the economy, whilst scaling up infrastructure project delivery and mobilising demand throughout the UK
  • Following the announcement of a ‘New Deal’ for Britain, which pledges to bring forward £5bn in capital investment for job creation and supply chains, as well as moving forward with ‘shovel ready’ civil infrastructure projects, across roads, highways and energy, and ensuring activity is targeted at a local and regional level, to help bolster recovery outside of city areas
  • Within the wider context of the Spring Budget published earlier this year, which earmarked £640bn between 2020 and 2025 for public sector infrastructure development, and is expected to be guided by the forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, anticipated for publication alongside the Autumn Budget - which will outline the Government’s long-term priorities for infrastructure development
  • During a busy period for transport projects and investment across the UK, including:
    • £27.4bn Strategic Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) for road network improvements and management, and constructing new physical road infrastructure and upgrading existing assets
    • confirmation that High-Speed Rail 2 will go ahead and be funded, and help alleviate connection divides between South-North England, provide quicker journeys, stimulate job creation, and develop economies included as part of Phase 2a and Phase 2b
    • the recent £589m to begin work on the Transpennine main line between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester, which seeks to scale up connectivity between communities, towns and cities, and level up economies through increased investment and business activity
  • As the Government moves ahead with reforming the planning system, and follows the publication of the Planning for the Future consultation, helping inform the forthcoming Planning White Paper - which aims to collect views on how best to streamline the planning and consents process, reduce red tape and barriers to development, and speed along the process of project delivery
  • Following the establishment of the new ‘Project Speed’ infrastructure Delivery Taskforce, announced as part of the New Deal, which will bring forward proposals to align planning rule reform with the Government’s wider infrastructure strategy and agenda

Key areas for discussion:

Priorities for enabling infrastructure development to support economic growth and recovery

  • Delegates will assess how policymakers might best invest and stimulate demand in infrastructure development, and overcome key challenges around ensuring activity translates into economic recovery, is spread throughout local and regional economies, and helps achieve decarbonisation net-zero targets - looking at:
    • priorities for designing a long-term plan for infrastructure strategy development - targeting national infrastructure deficiencies, reducing regulatory and framework barriers for development, and latest thinking on prospects for devolving more responsibility to the UK’s nations and regions
    • capital investment and best practice for leveraging resources effectively and developing a reliable finance model - priorities for scaling up projects of significance like energy, transport and digital infrastructure, and ensuring projects deliver value for taxpayers
    • mobilising supply chains and businesses in local and regional areas - increasing the provision and expansion of skills and jobs, and reducing barriers for small and medium sized businesses
    • developing green infrastructure to support economic growth and progress towards environmental targets
  • Sessions will also assess the next steps for creating a planning system which accelerates infrastructure project delivery and supports local economic expansion, considering:
    • priorities for reducing regulatory lag and designing a system that accelerates planning approvals - establishing a clear and concise rules based system, minimising the need for and frequency of appeals, and facilitating a platform for easier information accessibility and decision making
    • steps for ensuring local projects and housing development benefit from reform - changing land-use and ownership rules to encourage more and quicker construction, and opportunities for financial tools like land-value capture to unlock further local economic benefits
    • latest thinking on preserving and enhancing build quality standards - establishing measures for greater community insight on local plans, scaling up local council engagement and decision making, and binding design code frameworks to actual project development

Scaling up infrastructure development, enhancing regional connectivity, and helping mobilise the Government’s levelling up agenda

Further sessions will examine what more is needed to support infrastructure development across key sectors including transport, energy and digital and their role in supporting economic development across the UK’s regions and nations, looking at:

  • Addressing barriers around developing key regional and national infrastructure, and what steps policymakers need to take in order to ensure projects are delivered effectively
  • Translating greater digital and transport connectivity into increased economic opportunities - unlocking business investment in suburban and city environments and supporting regional development and investment
  • Energy infrastructure development - enhancing green job creation, and overcoming challenges around policy stability and the flow of capital support
  • Best practice for overcoming delivery challenges for infrastructure - further developing the domestic capacity for construction skills, utilising policy tools for increased public and private investment, and reducing risk and operational costs

Those in attendance will also examine the future of infrastructure funding and investment, and how reform to the design of funding mechanisms can better enable the allocation of private and public investment - this follows the publication of the Infrastructure Finance Review, and will consider priorities for establishing a long-term framework for funding projects, and how core economic infrastructure such as energy, transport and telecommunications can be better supported.

With the review of the Green Book also announced in the Budget, we expect further discussion on:

  • public funding and private finance and how resources can be better distributed across the UK while delivering the greatest value
  • the future of finance models following the ban on the use of PFI and PF2, and the opportunities that alternative models such as the Regulated Asset Base can present for future financing

The agenda:

  • Priorities for infrastructure delivery and economic recovery - identifying effective projects, supporting employment and skills growth, and tackling regional divides
  • The National Infrastructure Strategy, Government recovery plan, and what is needed for an effective recovery pathway
  • Developing a long-term plan for national infrastructure development, and steps for supporting activity across key sectors
    • Getting supply chains moving and unlocking progress towards shovel ready projects - fostering local developer demand, financial sustainability, and the foundation for sector recovery
    • Positioning energy infrastructure expansion as a vehicle for growth - rolling out new generation capacity, supporting supplier activity, and meeting decarbonisation targets
    • Overcoming barriers to civil infrastructure projects and delivering UK-wide benefits - funding security, working within timelines, and alleviating regional deficiencies
    • Examining best practice for accelerating the approval of major projects in the UK and working within the regulatory framework
  • A planning system that’s fit for purpose, and what’s needed from the Planning White Paper and ‘Project Speed’ Taskforce
    • Priorities for framework modification - reducing delivery barriers, facilitating faster permissions, and strengthening powers to encourage development
    • Delivering strategic locally-led projects and housing growth - simplifying local plans, maximising land-use for growth area, and supporting greater local council engagement
  • Expanding transport infrastructure and capacity and increasing connectivity, the flow of commerce, and economic growth
  • Next steps for developing an infrastructure funding model for swift project delivery - increasing investor confidence, ensuring value for money, and attracting investor appetite
  • Local government at the centre of transport and low-carbon infrastructure development and preparedness - designing transition plans and working with regional partners

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with infrastructure developers and construction and engineering companies, representatives from core infrastructure groups including transport, energy and telecommunications, housing and architecture firms, planners and surveyors, financial services and private capital lenders, legal and consultancy exerts, academics, think tanks and trade associations working in this field.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Huda As'ad

Head of Performance, Infrastructure and Projects Authority


Dr Pauline Lane

Professional lead for Infrastructure, Planning Inspectorate

Mark Southwell

Managing Director, Civil Infrastructure, UK&I, AECOM

Senior speaker confirmed from Burges Salmon

Alasdair Reisner

Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association

Julia Pyke

Director, Financing and Economic Regulation for Sizewell C, EDF