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Before the election ICE set out its agenda for any new government. Our message was clear – continuity, continuity, continuity. Now that we know there will be a Conservative administration we will continue to lead the charge for better infrastructure and a strong civil engineering industry.
We want to:
The first can be achieved by giving Infrastructure UK the remit and resources it needs to develop the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP). We believe it must evolve into an evidence-based strategy backed by a rolling 10 year Investment and Delivery Plan. And as the new Government has committed to further devolution, this type of 10 year plan can be replicated on a smaller scale across the UK. We have already seen this happen across some of our regions and ICE has been at the heart of supporting this process.
There are already reports of skills and capacity shortages holding back the sector. In its dying days the Coalition committed to working with industry on a skills plan to support the NIP. The new government must follow through on this commitment. The whole supply chain will need to respond. This will be an opportunity to think about what skills we’ll need in the future.
Resilience, the final part of our agenda is perhaps the most challenging. It requires a genuinely long-term approach and a change in how money is spent. Resilience is often tested in rare, one-off events, such as major floods. However, these rare events are becoming increasingly common. Add in pressures from population growth and without change, infrastructure “failures” could begin to impact on our day-to-day lives with increased regularity.
We know there will be a major government spending review in the autumn. ICE will be pressing for a whole life approach to the assets that remain in public hands. We will campaign hard for an approach that matches capital and maintenance investment – for example in our flood defences. We’ll also be looking for a commitment to a preventative, planned approach to local road maintenance.
ICE already sits at the heart of Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont, and the Welsh and London Assemblies. Members have much to offer the next Government in terms of knowledge, expertise and experience, particularly as the shift to further devolution in England takes place. If you’d like to hear more or get involved, do get in touch.