Infrastructure and natural capital: Discussing the National Infrastructure Commission’s latest paper

February 19, 2021

Stephanie Wray, Director and founder of RSK subsidiary Nature Positive, took part in the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM)’s latest webinar, which was organised in collaboration with the National Infrastructure Commission.

Held on 5 February, the webinar presented the new National Infrastructure Commission discussion paper, ‘Natural capital and environmental net gain’, published the same day. The paper examines how infrastructure projects can contribute to the UK’s natural capital through adopting environmental net gain principles at every stage.

As CIEEM notes: “The paper [sets] out the Commission’s strategic position on natural capital. This will contribute to their objectives to support sustainable economic growth and quality of life, both in terms of natural capital and achieving net zero. It will also shape the Commission’s approach to its future work, including the second National Infrastructure Assessment.”

The session was hosted by Giles Stevens, the NIC’s Director of Policy, and featured presentations from Julia Prescot, the National Infrastructure Commissioner leading the project, and Stephanie Wray, a past president and fellow of CIEEM, and current chair of CIEEM’s Strategic Policy Panel.

Stephanie welcomed the report as another important step towards valuing nature appropriately in planning and land management decisions and encouraged the commission to act swiftly and be brave in applying a new paradigm to infrastructure projects. She said: “This paper sets a clear vision for the future of major infrastructure projects and we are delighted to see the Commission confirm that natural capital will form part of its next National Infrastructure Assessment. I believe the Commission will find that the lens of natural capital will add great value to that assessment and, in the light of the Dasgupta Review published earlier this month, that we will increasingly see the impacts and dependencies on the natural world forming part of our economic decision making.”

You can read the new National Infrastructure Commission report, ‘Natural capital and environmental net gain’, here.