National Infrastructure Commission seeks views on future of regulation

National Infrastructure Commission seeks views on future of regulation

The National Infrastructure is looking for opinions on the regulation of the energy, water and telecoms sector – both current and future changes that may impact on and affect these industries. The call for evidence just published will support the regulation study that the NIC has undertaken at the behest of the Government in October 2018.

The NIC aims to determine whether the current system of regulation affords the best deal for consumers whilst ensuring that industry has the flexibility to innovate and invest. Questions focus on particular challenges facing the industry – such as the push to move to full fibre networks – and how regulators can best accommodate the changing needs, and whether regulation is able to adapt to the requirements of a competitive landscape.

In line with the Government’s thinking recently set out in its draft Statement of Strategic Priorities (SSP), the NIC is examining what scope there is for regulators to work together with greater efficiency. The SSP stressed the need to Ofcom to work collaboratively with other regulators – both for best practice sharing, but more concretely around looking for opportunities for passive infrastructure sharing with other utilities. The NIC goes further in this regard, posing the question ‘What is the case for or against a multi-utility regulator covering energy, digital and water?’.

The Call for Evidence also examines the dual roles of policy makers and regulators; where the boundaries lie in setting policy and independent regulation and whether there is sufficient clarity around strategic goals. As the UK prepares for a no deal departure of the EU, the legislation to amend the telecoms regulatory framework under the EU Withdrawal Act removes the current regulatory oversight of Ofcom – a role to date held by the European Commission.

The call for evidence will now run for eight weeks, until April 12th, with the report on its findings expected for the fall.