Skip to the content

Report advocates creation of environmental data platform

Digital icons over rural landscape
Image source:

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has recommended the creation of a new data platform for the sharing of environmental information.

It said this would support efforts to address the impact of proposed infrastructure projects, protect natural habitats and speed up schemes for the transition to net zero.

The recommendation has come in a report by the Government official adviser on infrastructure issues that includes a package of measures in response to a perception that the planning system for major projects operates too slowly.

It says that by the end of 2024 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should introduce a platform for sharing environmental data, taking sources from developers and local nature recovery strategies and supported by clear data standards.

By the end of 2025 statutory consultees should develop a library of historic and natural environment mitigations for different kinds of infrastructure, receive a new resource to gather baseline data and agree on strategic mitigations for urgently needed infrastructure. The report says the latter should initially focus on wind generation and electricity transmission, followed by water resources.

Reducing toll on nature

Dr Richard Benwell, CEO of the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition of charities, said: “A central and standardised environmental data sharing platform is an excellent recommendation, which could help to reduce the ongoing and often unnecessary toll that major infrastructure takes on nature.

“If it were combined with Local Nature Recovery Strategies legally linked to the planning system, then it could represent a major step toward nature-positive planning.”

Other key recommendations in the report are for a legal requirement for a review of relevant national policy statements every five years, ensuring they include clear tests against which proposed projects will be assessed, and a central coordination mechanism reporting to the prime minister or chancellor.

Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.