Sir John Armitt, Chair of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)

Reimagining national infrastructure with Sir John Armitt

The future of Britain’s national infrastructure is getting a lot of attention – from transport and energy, flooding and waste management, digital and data, to protecting our biodiversity and the wider natural environment.

In large part because it’s facing some big challenges. Not least our changing climate and the commitment to decarbonise our economy. But also the question of who pays for it, who benefits from it, and who gets to contribute to the decision-making process about its future. There are also the opportunities that new technologies bring to improve the way we design, build and operate our infrastructure.

In this episode we’re delighted to have on the show someone who spends a lot of time thinking about all of this; Sir John Armitt, the Chair of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).

The Commission’s job is to provide the UK Government with impartial, expert advice on major long term infrastructure challenges. Later this month the NIC will publish its second National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA). The last one was published 5 years ago in 2018.

This year’s NIA will focus on three strategic priorities for the UK’s national infrastructure:

  1. 1. Reaching net zero by 2050
  2. 2. Reducing environmental impacts and adapting to a changing climate
  3. 3. Supporting levelling up and creating sustainable economic growth across all regions of the UK.

Sir John and his team recently visited the Catapult and he kindly agreed to an interview with our Chair, Prof. Greg Clark CBE.

They explored a number of key questions:

  • How can innovation and technology and optimise existing infrastructure?
  • Where are the business opportunities in responding to climate resilience, net zero and decarbonisation?
  • Why is procurement, or ‘smarter spending’, so important for making investment go further?
  • What is the role of enlightened leadership at the local level – how important are sub-national bodies at the city and regional level in driving the change we need?
  • What does the future hold for the UK’s national infrastructure?

Theme music on this episode is by Phill Ward Music (

Show notes

To learn more about the NIC and the upcoming Nation Infrastructure Assessment to be published on 18 October 2023, click here.

To register for our inaugural Connected Places Summit, being held in London on 20-21 March 2024, click here.

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Full transcript is available here.