The UK government wants to boost the nation’s data center infrastructure as part of a plan to make Britain more attractive to scale-up companies.

Technology secretary Michelle Donelan has plans to boost UK data center infrastructure. – UK Parliament

Technology secretary Michelle Donelan will announce the move in a speech later today when she sets out her agenda for the year ahead.

UK plans digital infrastructure improvements

Donelan’s speech will include plans to “reboot the development of Britain’s data center network,” according to the Times.

The government is said to be taking action after complaints from the tech industry that planning restrictions and a lack of adequate power infrastructure are holding back the development of new data centers.

Industry lobby group techUK warned last year in a letter to energy watchdog Ofgem that “data centers are not being built” adding that “getting access to power has held back some key digital infrastructure projects.”

Data centers have been competing with other developments for access to the national grid, and in 2022 it was reported that house-building projects in three London boroughs were under threat because data centers were using all the power capacity in the area.

Donelan is working closely with her counterparts in the energy and communities departments to try and remove barriers to data center development, the Times report says.

Digital infrastructure will be key to the government’s ambition for the UK to become what Donelan will describe as a “scale-up powerhouse.”

In her speech, she is expected to say that the UK has “all the right ingredients” to create a business environment that is attractive to growing companies, but that to succeed it will need to tap into the nation’s “unlocked potential.”

DCD has contacted the government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology for more details on its plans.

Government’s renewed focus on data centers

The UK government claims to have already been taking steps to resolve power issues faced by digital infrastructure providers. In November it announced a £960m ‘connections action plan’ which will see it invest in the national grid.

This could cut average grid connection delays from five years to six months, releasing up to 100GW of capacity.

Elsewhere, ministers have been looking at the security and resilience of the UK data center network, and in December launched a consultation on new regulations to improve the security and resilience of data infrastructure. A new regulator for digital infrastructure could be launched as part of the proposals.