Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Priorities for the UK infrastructure bank - investment focus, powers and responsibilities, and its role in policy ambitions on growth, net-zero and levelling up

Morning, Wednesday, 19th May 2021

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

This conference will discuss the future of UK infrastructure investment, planning and delivery.

It follows the announced creation of a new National Infrastructure Bank and its forthcoming operation later this year, as well as a range of funding and wider measures announced in Budget 2021.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on how these developments can be directed to help tackle key challenges around connectivity, reducing regional inequalities, and protecting the environment.

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with Matthew Vickerstaff, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head, Project Finance, Infrastructure and Projects Authority and Julia Prescot, Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission, along with contributions from AECOM; Burges Salmon; Cardiff Council; Deloitte; EDF; the Global Infrastructure Investor Association; Infracapital; Innovate UK; New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership; North East England Chamber of Commerce; The Northern Powerhouse Partnership; Palace Capital; and the University of Birmingham. The chairs are Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell and Kevin Hollinrake MP.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • the UK’s new National Infrastructure Bank - immediate priorities for its design and development, and the scope of its powers and responsibilities
  • regional inequalities - the potential role of the Bank in the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, and support for regional growth and cross-region strategy and infrastructure development
  • investment priorites - improving investor confidence and  growing private sector investment in UK infrastructure, including for transport infrastructure and cross-nation connectivity upgrades
  • the decarbonisation policy wave - opportunities for stakeholders and how the Bank can help in working towards net-zero targets and government policy ambitions for a Green Industrial Revolution

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; HM Treasury; the Cities & Local Growth Unit; the CCC; the CMA; Defra; DCMS; DIT; DfE, NI; the DfT; the Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; HMRC; the Home Office; the Infrastructure and Projects Authority; MHCLG; the National Infrastructure Commission; the ORR; Ofwat; The Scottish Government; the Scottish National Investment Bank; UK Export Finance and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Long-term approaches to UK-wide infrastructure development and opportunities for the National Infrastructure Bank to support regional funding and recovery
  • Priorities for Bank design and the potential scope of powers and responsibilities - options for finance and investment models, its role at a national and local level, and learning from examples of best practice
  • Growing private sector investment in UK infrastructure and how investor confidence can be improved
  • Leveraging funding and investment for transport infrastructure, including cross-nation connectivity upgrades
  • Regional inequalities, government policy, and investment for growth - the future scope for devolution, cross-region strategy alignment, and designing tailored solutions to social and economic challenges
  • Infrastructure investment and the Government’s aims for a Green Industrial Revolution - key steps for expanding clean energy rollout, new employment opportunities, and regional leadership in green technology
  • Developing and delivering a National Infrastructure Bank to support the UK’s social, environmental and economic goals

Areas for discussion:

Design and development of the UK’s new National Infrastructure Bank - assessing priorities, including:

  • potential scope of powers and responsibilities - how the Bank might best be coordinated and administered across UK regions:
    • funding:
      • options for enabling direct project investment and utilising grant funding
      • how finance and payback periods might be regulated fairly
      • strategies and frameworks for cooperation between the Bank and local authorities
    • relationships with other infrastructure project authorities - minimising disconnects, including on consents and approvals processes
  • finance - options for models to support projects, such as:
    • auction based - the role that an approach similar to Contracts for Difference might play in driving innovation, competitive tendering, long-term outlook, and low-cost project delivery
    • privately-led finance schemes - discussing next steps, including:
      • how a successor to the Private Finance Initiative might be designed with value for money in mind
      • the potential use of models like the Regulated Asset Base for infrastructure and utility funding
  • meeting funding shortfalls following UK exit from the EIB - discussing immediate steps, including:
    • what is needed from policymakers in order to provide support during the transition, such as identifying urgent gaps
    • whether replication is appropriate
    • how the Bank can address long-term challenges 
  • investor confidence:
    • priorities for policymaker engagement with sources of private investment in UK infrastructure projects going ahead
    • options for incentives, and for the regulatory regime 

Tackling geographic inequalities and accelerating regional development - looking at the Bank’s potential role, and its interaction with devolved administrations:

  • key relationships:
    • support for regional leadership in addressing infrastructure issues, and sharing best practice
    • options for devolved funding and strategy development powers, as well as increasing regional and local coordination on specific infrastructure deficits
  • cross-regional infrastructure and economic strategy development - discussing priorities, including:
    • how barriers to transport infrastructure can be overcome for expanding cross-region connectivity
    • delivering more reliable and improved road and rail assets
    • how the Bank can help translate this into greater business and cross-region growth
  • tackling regional inequalities - the Bank’s role in strategies for better addressing socio-economic challenges, in areas such as house building and improving living standards

Contribution to the UK’s net-zero agenda

  • focus and strategy - setting priorities and protocols for the Bank’s infrastructure investment to stimulate the growth of green jobs and industries, and wider economic development 
  • links with wider policy - coordinating the work of the Bank with other initiatives across government on infrastructure investment to support clean industries 
  • regional and sector-specific support - in areas such as:
    • regional industry decarbonisation, and addressing cost barriers for energy-intensive manufacturers
    • commercialisation of technologies that aid fuel switching and energy efficiency
    • taking a role in reinforcing UK leadership in a green industrial revolution
  • clean energy infrastructure rollout - the potential role of the Bank in:
    • supporting expansion in electricity networks and grid capability for integrating clean and intermittent energy
    • providing guidance on the type of action needed to expand large-scale infrastructure needs such as electric vehicle rollout

The context for discussion:

  • the UK National Infrastructure Bank - due for interim operation by the Spring, with fresh details released as part of the Spring Budget and in the Policy Design document, and following the appointment of the inaugural Chair Chris Grigg for an initial three-year term - new information includes:
    • an initial provision of £12bn in equity and debt capital to finance infrastructure projects, available to local authorities and the private sector, supporting closer cooperation between the two
    • the Bank’s utilisation of a range of financing tools to support project delivery, and incentives including debt, hybrid products and equity, as well as direct loans in the form of gilts to local authorities
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - outlining long-term priorities for infrastructure development across the UK up to 2050
  • UK exit from the European Investment Bank - following the end of the UK-EU Transition Period, and with the UK no longer a member of the EIB
  • Budget 2021:
    • publication of the Government’s Build Back Better policy paper, with plans for long-term recovery across the development of infrastructure, skills, innovation, and whole-nation collaboration
    • additional £1bn unlocked as part of the Towns Fund to support economic growth and regeneration in deprived English towns
    • further details on investment programmes aimed at recovery and levelling up, including the UK Community Renewal Fund, Levelling Up Fund, and the Community Ownership Fund
    • recommitment over £600bn this Parliament in public capital investment, with further guidance on specific infrastructure projects such as transport and growth deals for regions across the UK
  • A New Deal for Britain - announced by the PM last Summer with £5bn for job creation, supply chains and shovel-ready road and energy projects
  • Project Speed - a new infrastructure delivery taskforce, announced with the New Deal, looking at aligning planning reform with the Government’s wider infrastructure strategy and agenda
  • reform to the Green Book - reforms to frameworks around funding decisions and calculations intended to increase fairness in investment distribution across the UK
  • 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - from the PM, with £12bn in initial investment to stimulate research and development of clean transport and energy technologies
  • Planning for the Future publication - consultation on government reform of the planning system ahead of a planning white paper, aimed at streamlining the planning and consents process, reducing red tape and barriers to development, and speeding along the process of project delivery
  • Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure - the publication of the outcome of the Government’s consultation on the planning system and public sector infrastructure, including plans to reduce application times for new projects
  • Energy white paper - a long-term vision for developing the energy system and the low-carbon transition up to 2050, including commitments to:
    • deliver 40GW of offshore wind and 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030
    • explore new options for public and private funding of nuclear technology
    • invest £1bn in carbon capture and storage

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the Cabinet Office; the Cities & Local Growth Unit; the Climate Change Committee; the Competition and Markets Authority; Defra; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; the Department for International Trade; the Department for the Economy, NI; the Department for Transport; Geospatial Commission; the Government Legal Department; HM Revenue & Customs; HM Treasury; Home Office; the Infrastructure and Projects Authority; the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; the National Infrastructure Commission; the Office of Rail and Road; Ofwat; The Scottish Government; the Scottish National Investment Bank; UK Export Finance; and the Welsh Government.

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript 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

Julia Prescot

Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission

Keynote Speakers

Matthew Vickerstaff

Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head, Project Finance, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Julia Prescot

Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission

Shamit Gaiger

Director, Strategic Advisory, AECOM


Kevin Hollinrake MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking

Rt Hon The Lord Butler of Brockwell

Member, Finance Bill Sub-Committee


Julia Pyke

Director, Financing and Economic Regulation, Sizewell C, EDF

Lawrence Slade

Chief Executive, Global Infrastructure Investor Association

Nick Prior

Global Head Infrastructure & Capital Projects, Deloitte

Henri Murison

Director, The Northern Powerhouse Partnership

Julian Munson

Head of Enterprise Zones and Innovation, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership

Richard Starr

Executive Property Director, Palace Capital

Professor Raquel Ortega-Argilés

Chair, Regional Economic Development, Department of Strategy and International Business, University of Birmingham

Stuart McMillan

Partner, Burges Salmon

Ed Clarke

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Infracapital

Jonathan Walker

Policy Director, North East England Chamber of Commerce

Mareike Schmidt

Innovation Lead, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, Innovate UK