The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has launched a consultation to inform its new probe into the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure network.
The study, commissioned by chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, will examine the actions the government should take in order to ensure that the UK’s infrastructure can cope with future changes, disruptions, shocks and accidents.
These could range from increased risks of flooding due to climate change, to the-increasing dependencies on digital technologies.
The increasing sophistication and interdependency of services like energy means they are more vulnerable to threats or hazards with potentially wide-reaching impacts, says the NIC’s consultation paper.
The consultation will run until 1 April 2019. It will focus on transport, energy, water and wastewater and digital communications infrastructure.
Responses to the consultation will help inform the development of a new framework for resilience across economic infrastructure, which will then help the development of the next National Infrastructure Assessment.
The consultation paper says the NIC intends to avoid duplicating risk and resilience assessments already undertaken by infrastructure operators, regulators and government departments.
Instead, it will seek to address the gaps in existing assessments, whilst considering where the NIC can add value to existing initiatives.
The NIC’s initial research suggested that issues arising from cross-sectoral interdependencies, like those between energy and transport, are currently not fully understood or acted upon.
Sir John Armitt, chairman of the NIC, said: “Whether it’s how we get to work, how we heat and light our homes or how we keep in touch with friends and family, our infrastructure services have become increasingly sophisticated and increasingly interdependent.
“Our latest study will examine how best to ensure that our infrastructure systems are fit for managing shocks or disruptions they might face.
“We want to hear from those across the public and private sectors, and researchers, about the priorities and the questions that the framework we’re developing should seek to address, and the barriers to developing resilient infrastructure that our study should seek to overcome.”