It is crucial that the region's wider strategic infrastructure, such as the power utilities, has the capacity to enable planned growth.
In March 2018, England's Economic Heartland (EEH) commissioned Bircham Dyson Bell to identify opportunities to improve the delivery of utility infrastructure in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor.
Securing the timely delivery of enabling infrastructure is fundamental to unlocking the region's immense economic potential, something identified by Government as being a 'national priority'.
Bircham Dyson Bell's report will explore how to best ensure the current regulatory framework for utilities and strategic flood management can be used to ensure enabling infrastructure is delivered in a timely manner. It will be used by the Heartland authorities to identify key actions that can be taken forward jointly with Government, infrastructure owners and providers, regulators and local authorities.
The study will include an assessment of how a delivery mechanism might be established that enables advanced investment in utility infrastructure which supports planned growth. Due to be completed in May 2018, this work forms a foundation for the Heartland's work on wider strategic infrastructure.
Cllr Martin Tett, chairman of England's Economic Heartland, said: "The phenomenal potential of our region simply cannot be realised without investment in enabling infrastructure, ensuring it is in place to support transformational levels of economic and housing growth.
"Bircham Dyson Bell's study is an important first step in ensuring our strategic infrastructure is fit for the future. It will provide recommendations for how to overcome what currently seems to be an inability to secure enabling infrastructure in a timely and efficient manner.
"This work is another demonstration of the strategic leadership being provided by the Strategic Alliance for the Heartland to identify and tackle the challenges facing the region head-on, and ensure we realise our potential."
Nick Evans, Partner, Bircham Dyson Bell, said: "We are delighted to be working again with EEH. We recognise the critical importance of this work in the development and success of the region. With evidence based research and by engaging with stakeholders, we will help to identify investment barriers and advise on how they can be overcome.
"Working together, we can help EEH unlock the undoubted investment potential to help bring economic growth."
Upgrading our Energy System
The Strategic Alliance welcomes Ofgem's Upgrading Our Energy System Plan, published in summer 2017, as a step forward in laying the foundations for innovation and regulatory change across the energy industry. We will be exploring the opportunities for change as presented in this report and how it can be applied across the Heartland area.
The Plan discusses the development of a smart, flexible energy system that will save costs for industry providers and consumers. These changes could encourage innovative new businesses, putting the UK at the forefront of exporting new smart energy technologies to the rest of the world.
This is particularly good news for England's Economic Heartland, as we seek to get a full picture of key issues that local authorities and the business community is facing in terms of securing timely and adequate utilities infrastructure to meet the existing and future growth agenda.
Lead officer: Amanda Jacobs: Amanda.Jacobs@Oxfordshire.gov.uk