This paper reviews the accumulating evidence of problems in the way the UK makes strategic infrastructure decisions.
It identifies problems such as short-sightedness and lack of forward-looking strategy; failure to secure cross-party agreement, translated into high political risk; serious weaknesses in the evidence base, even in the cases where there is cross-party support; and failure to secure local community consent, which often leads to political procrastination.
The paper concludes that these problems stem from gaps in the institutional architecture for infrastructure investment decisions. It uses examples of individual policy areas and projects such as HS2 and the Thames Tideway to highlight the lack of adequate forums for structured, informed discussions about these policy decisions.
The paper argues that the political process must be improved to address this institutional gap, and it draws attention to several international examples that offer lessons for potential reform in the UK.