Welsh Assembly unveil first chair of the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales

A new National Infrastructure Commission for Wales (NICfW) has officially announced its inaugural chair with the key purpose being to steer and shape the country’s long-term infrastructure investment strategy.

John Lloyd Jones has been named as the preferred candidate to take up the role and will lead the group initially on an interim basis for a period of one year. It’s part of efforts undertaken by the Welsh Government to establish the NICfW and provide a platform for informed advice with a longer-term strategy.

The commission will comprise of 10-12 commissioners, including the chair, and all of whom will be publicly appointed on the basis of their experience and expertise. Plans to set up the commission were announced last December by Welsh Assembly cabinet secretary for economy and transport, Ken Skates, who said they were looking for individuals “with experience of strategic leadership at senior levels of government, academia or business”.

It’s a timely moment for the announcement of such a chair following the disappointing news that the UK government decided not to go ahead with plans for a tidal bay lagoon in Swansea which promised to bring jobs, prosperity and new technology to the area. It’s hoped the commission will become a leading voice on the economic and environmental infrastructure needs of Wales over five to 30 years.

Commenting on the appointment, Skates said: “The calibre of candidates that came forward for this role through the public appointments process was high and I want to thank all those that took the time to put their name forward. I have decided to appoint the chair on an interim basis for one year to focus on establishing the commission in its initial phase. Mr Jones has excellent credentials and offers stability and reliability while I assess the most important skills and knowledge for the commission in the longer term.”

The first chair of the NICfW is described as an “experienced chair” having been chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales and a member of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee from March 2000 to February 2010. 

Jones has also been a member of the National Trust for a number of years, a member of the Committee for Wales during the 90s, a member of the Trust's Land Use Panel from 2004 till 2015 and CCW’s representative on the National Trust Council from 2008 till 2015.

In March 2010 he was appointed as a registered commissioner for the Infrastructure Planning Commission which is now part of the Planning Inspectorate. In that role he was a member of the Examining Authority that dealt with the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay and 17.4km grid connection in North Wales applications.

Simon Shouler, manager of Association of Consultancy and Engineering in Wales, said: “The main thrust of John Lloyd’s appointment is his ability to get things moving within the year.  Apparently, he is a strong leader and a very experienced chairman. I understand his priorities diverge somewhat from the traditional thrust of transport as an economic driver, so we may expect some varied and challenging dialogue.”

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