ICE submission to the Transport Committee on major transport infrastructure projects: appraisal and delivery 

This response sets out ICE’s views on major transport infrastructure, including prioritisation, appraisal, funding and delivery.

  • Updated: 17 March 2021
  • Author: David Hawkes, Lead Policy Manager
Our submission to this inquiry draws on ICE's extensive body of work and insight, including our 2020 State of the Nation Report on net zero and infrastructure, White Paper on Covid-19 and the ‘new normal’ for infrastructure systems, policy paper on reducing the gap between cost estimates and projects outturns, and collaboration with the Infrastructure Client Group on Project 13.   

Key points from the response: 
  • In the wake of Covid-19, even if some public life activities are carried out in a more remote way in the future, the underlying demand growth on conventional transport networks will remain significant. Continuing with planned works is likely to be important as passenger numbers recover in a post-vaccine environment. 
  • There is no plausible path to net zero without major transport emissions reductions – reductions that need to start being delivered soon. ICE believes that in order to deliver major projects while ensuring the Government meets its 2050 net-zero targets, a Net-Zero Infrastructure Plan for transitioning the UK’s economic infrastructure systems to a net-zero footing must be put in place. 
  • The publication of the Construction Playbook in December 2020 does address a number of barriers to improving the development and delivery of major transport infrastructure, including how to avoid guesswork on project costs and forecasts, improving the focus on outcomes from projects, and decarbonising its delivery.  
  • Enterprise-based delivery models, including Project 13, provide an example of the type of initiative that could gain traction and define the way in which major infrastructure projects are delivered in the future. Rather than the adversarial culture associated with traditional one-off transactional relationships, the idea is that the ‘capable owner’ develops incentive mechanisms that focus on outcomes and the performance of infrastructure assets over the entirety of their lifecycle. 

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