Lord Adonis resigned from the position last month

John Armitt

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) deputy chair Sir John Armitt has been appointed to temporarily lead the group following Lord Adonis’ resignation.

While announcing Armitt’s appointment the NIC confirmed a permanent replacement would be installed in due course.

He is a founding member of the NIC, serving since its inception in 2015.  

Armitt said: “I would like to thank Lord Adonis for his work as chairman, leading the organisation as it examined a wide range of infrastructure issues, and kick-starting the development of the UK’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment. 

“The Commission has a busy and exciting few months ahead, and I look forward to continuing the work we have planned with my fellow Commissioners.”

Later this year, the Commission will publish the country’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, looking ahead up to 2050.

Lord Stunell, the liberal democrat peer behind an independent review into Brexit’s impact on the construction industry, raised doubts about the likelihood of Adonis’ permanent replacement coming from within the NIC.

Speaking to Building, he said: “While there are undeniably fantastic people with incredible technical knowledge currently on the commission, and Sir John Armitt is clearly one of them, I would expect government to be looking outside.

“Government will be looking for someone who is willing to say ‘Yes, minister; yes, minister’, who is more biddable politically, and I am hoping that does not mean someone coming in and learning the industry from scratch.”

But Richard Threlfall, partner and head of infrastructure building and construction at KPMG, threw his support behind Armitt.

Threlfall, who also chairs the Infrastructure Forum, an independent think tank, said consistency was integral.

He said: “We do need continuity so if Sir John isn’t permanently appointed I hope it is someone from within the existing committee. What government needs to keep in mind is that the appointment needs to be apolitical, someone who is just interested in providing the infrastructure the country needs.

“Andrew was joyously independent. He was a great defender and not afraid to say what he thought, not just on issues like Brexit, but especially when it came to infrastructure. It’s a great pity he’s stood down, but I understand he felt he had another cause he had to dedicate himself to fully.”