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Lecture

Question Time Debate: Can the UK do major infrastructure projects anymore?

Event organised by ICE

Date
29 April 2024
Time

This event has now ended

You can catch-up on details or any broadcast and downloads here.

Overview

The cancellation of the northern leg of HS2 in October 2023 dominated UK headlines and spotlighted weaknesses in the UK’s capability to plan and deliver major infrastructure projects. Questions have emerged on infrastructure planning, procurement and delivery, as well as the role of different stakeholders in this process.

This panel debate, co-hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Civil Engineers Club (CEC), will bring together a diverse group of policy-makers, senior infrastructure professionals, academics and other experts to debate the topic.

This public hybrid event is free to register and will take place in person in the ICE’s headquarters at One Great George Street Westminster, London, and virtually via Zoom.

This event is linked to the launch of a new ‘Next Steps’ policy programme on HS2. The newly published briefing paper “The cancellation of HS2’s Northern leg – learning lessons”  focuses on decision-making in upstream planning, procurement and delivery on HS2, and the people, culture and context within which those decisions were made. It provides a scene setter for discussing the lessons from HS2’s cancellation and will be updated in July 2024 following further engagement.

Organised with

The Civil Engineers' Club

The Civil Engineers' Club

The Civil Engineers' Club exists to promote social and sporting activities amongst Civil Engineers and their families.

Programme

18:30 - 18:40

Welcome from CEC

18:40 - 18:45

Introduction from chair

18:45 - 19:55

Panel debate

19:55 - 20:00

Closing remarks

Speakers

John Pelton

John Pelton

Costain

enterprise programme director

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John Pelton

Currently enterprise programme director with Costain. Previously with Jacobs as programme partner director for East West Rail.

Prior to that seconded to the Lower Thames Crossing programme as the sponsorship eirector following 2 years as a director on the Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Programme and in Parliament. 

He led Highways England’s Major Projects transformation programme, Crossrail’s Programme Partner JV (including delivering Crossrail’s innovation programme) and HS2’s Efficiency Challenge Programme.

First career leading complex programmes with the British military on operations around the world and in procurement.

Honorary professor of Project and Construction Management at UCL.

Svetlana Joao

Svetlana Joao

TYPSA

structural engineer

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Svetlana Joao

Svetlana Joao, structural engineer at TYPSA, ICE President Future Leader 2022-2023

Svetlana Joao is a structural engineer at TYPSA, working on the HS2 Project, an ICE President Future Leader 2022-2023, and TOP 50 Women in Engineering 2023. She is working in the site support of the HS2 C2/C3 by managing various teams' activities and undertaking the complexity of the construction queries. In her role, Svetlana acts as the bridge between the contractor (EKFB), adeptly handling communication and collaboration on behalf of her team.

Gavin Pearson

Gavin Pearson

New Civil Engineer

editor

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Gavin Pearson

Gavin has 20 years of experience of reporting on and working with the infrastructure industry. His career started in political journalism where he specialised in coverage of energy and transport policy and projects. In recent years he has reported extensively on international infrastructure as editor of Geneva-based Infrastructure Global and took the reins as editor of NCE in November 2023. 

Prof Jennifer Schooling

Prof Jennifer Schooling

Anglia Ruskin University

professor of digital innovation and smart places

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Prof Jennifer Schooling

Prof Jennifer Schooling is professor of Digital Innovation and Smart Places at Anglia Ruskin University, and until February 2024 was the director of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC).

She is passionate about changing the way the built environment sector views data and digitalisation, to become a vital asset in its own right, and as a tool for tackling the key challenges facing our places, including climate change, resource constraint, resilience and inequity. She leads the Digital Cities for Change project, which explores the sociotechnical aspects of digitalisation at the city scale, focussing on governance and ethical innovation to enable delivery of digital solutions for public value creation.

She also carries out research on decarbonisation of construction through data, and was lead author of the Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment. 

She is on the Secure Connected Places Advisory Board for the UK government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the Infrastructure Client Group’s Digital Transformation Task Group, and the Institution of Civil Engineers Decarbonisation Community Advisory Board.

Mark Reynolds

Mark Reynolds

MACE

chairman and group chief executive

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Mark Reynolds

Mark was appointed Mace’s Group chief executive in 2013 and chairman in January 2022. He has overseen the company’s revenue growth from £1bn to £2bn. He has consistently championed change within the industry, driving innovation to improve service excellence while ensuring Mace continues to be a more productive, efficient and responsible company. 

In 2021 Mace launched a new ambitious 2026 strategy to become a purpose driven company focusing on three strategic priorities; pursue a sustainable world, grow together, and deliver distinctive value. He has set clear targets for Mace to grow its revenue by 10% and margin by 20% annually, invest 3.5% revenue in R&D every year and contribute 1% of pre-tax profit to its communities through the Mace Foundation.

Mark gained his early experience in the commercial and aviation sectors and was the deputy programme director for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Mark was appointed in June 2022 as co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, to help lead the next steps of our industry’s transformation. Mark is also a board director for BusinessLDN and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Dr David Prout

Dr David Prout

pro-vice-chancellor (planning and resources)

University of Oxford

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Dr David Prout

Dr David Prout took up the post of pro-vice-chancellor (Planning and Resources) at Oxford in September 2017.

He has had a long-standing career in central and local government, most recently (2013-17) as director general for the £50 billion High Speed 2 programme. Prior to that he was girector general for Local Government at the Department for Communities and Local Government, where he was responsible for all aspects of local government policy and funding, for the Fire Service, and for tackling extremism.

He has also served as, among other roles, executive director for Housing, Planning and Regeneration at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (2007-2009); director for Local Government Policy in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2004-2007) and private and principal private secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister (1999-2004).

Jan Bessell

Jan Bessell

Pinsent Mason

leading planning specialist

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Jan Bessell

Jan has significant experience of examining (former Commissioner IPC/Examining Inspector PINS) and advising on a wide range of nationally significant infrastructure and major development projects across the full range of sectors including new settlements and urban extensions, energy, water and waste water, transport, business and commercial, ports and airports dealing with a wide range of issues from development consent orders, strategic plans, EIA, biodiversity, design, Water Framework Regulations, Habitats Regulations Assessment, community engagement and compulsory purchase. Jan has been recognised as one of ‘the most influential women in UK planning’. She is Board Chair of the National Infrastructure Planning Association.

Jan is a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI) and currently sits as Vice Chair of the RTPI English Policy Committee and is North East Regional Representative on General Assembly of the RTPI. She is also on the Standards Board for Building with Nature and continues to be engaged with Planning Aid.

For more information please contact:

Hayley Proudlock

Sustainable Development Goals: