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Wed July 15 2020

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Heathrow ruling hits National Infrastructure Strategy

6 Mar The Treasury has briefed the BBC that its National Infrastructure Strategy will not now be published with the budget statement next week, as had been intended.

It seems that the recent Heathrow ruling by the Court of Appeal has forced a rapid re-evaluation as to what other national infrastructure projects fail to satisfy the government’s climate change commitments

The National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS) is the government’s response to the National Infrastructure Assessment that was published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) – the government’s advisory board – way back in July 2018. At that time, the government said that the NIS would be published in 2019, setting out the government’s priorities for economic infrastructure and responding in depth to the NIC’s recommendations.

In the Queen's Speech at the opening of parliament in December 2019, the NIS was promised with the spring budget statement, which is next week. The BBC, the UK's state broadcaster, has been briefed that it will now not see the light of day for at least another couple of months.

According to the BBC, "The delay will allow the new chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to refocus the strategy, to reflect potentially larger resources available, and to incorporate the challenge of achieving 'net zero' carbon emissions over the same 30-year timescale".

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Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s airports policy was illegal because it had failed to address climate change impact, opening the way for legal challenges against other aspects of government infrastructure policy. [See report here.]

This week lawyers acting for the broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham took the first steps in a legal action against the HS2 rail project on the same basis.

A new group called Transport Action Network has been making noises about challenging road building plans, and the Good Law Project with green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince and journalist George Monbiot are challenging the legality of planned fossil fuel energy projects.

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