NIC hits the road on fact-finding tour

Sir John Armitt, left, and Andy Burnham at an NIC roundtable event in Manchester on 13 June 2022.

Ensuring Greater Manchester has the infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the year 2050 was on the agenda as the government’s official advisers on infrastructure policy kicked off a national tour with a visit to the region this week (Monday 13 June). 

Maximising the opportunities provided by HS2, the importance of further investment in public transport across the region and steps to help homes and businesses use less carbon were all discussed during a series of meetings between the National Infrastructure Commission and the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, alongside officials from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).  

The Commissioners were keen to discuss how government policy, funding mechanisms and decision making processes can better serve the needs of city regions like Greater Manchester, and support key goals like levelling up and reaching the net zero emissions target by 2050. 

The Commission’s visit was the first in a series of engagements with city regions across the country, to gather evidence in the run-up to the next National Infrastructure Assessment – a major five-yearly report with costed recommendations to government on long term infrastructure priorities. 

During the visit, Commissioners also met representatives of the Greater Manchester Equalities Alliance (GM=EqAl), a coalition of voluntary and community organisations from a wide range of communities of experience, to hear how future policy changes could affect different groups. 

The Commissioners also toured the Civic Quarter Heat Network and saw examples of other steps by Manchester City Council to reduce energy use in civic buildings, before also visiting the new Mayfield Park to see at first hand how floodable meadows will help the city’s flood resilience.  

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce also hosted a special event where Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, discussed with business leaders how transport and energy networks can evolve to support a greener economy which also supports skilled jobs in the region and beyond. 

Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The Commission has been a strong advocate for giving more powers and funding to local leaders to drive forward growth and regeneration plans that are right for their own places. We were pleased to welcome Sir John and his fellow Commissioners to Greater Manchester, to show them what we’re already doing with our unique devolved powers to create a greener, fairer more prosperous city-region, and make the case for the things we need to see from central government to accelerate that progress.” 

Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Greater Manchester is known globally for its pioneering, creative spirit, and its residents have always used infrastructure to both reflect and support that ingenuity. As we face an array of challenges and opportunities in the second half of this century, our visit has given us invaluable insights to inform our future recommendations on government policy.” 

The next National Infrastructure Assessment will be published in the second half of 2023. The Commission has already announced that it will focus on three strategic themes: achieving the legally binding net zero emissions target, protecting the environment and enhancing climate resilience, and levelling up economic prosperity and quality of life the UK. Ministers are required to respond formally to the Commission’s recommendations within a year.

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email