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Press release

Expert insight on how reforming the Green Book could help achieve net-zero sought by ICE

16 October 2020
  • How can reforming the Green Book best help policy makers respond to the need to lower carbon emissions?
  • Should the Green Book’s Five Case Model be expanded to six, to respond to the urgent 2050 net-zero target?

These are some of the questions being asked of industry professionals and local government stakeholders in a new consultation, launched today by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The consultation asks for expert input on how reform of the Government’s Green Book could gear decisions on infrastructure investment towards achieving better social and environmental outcomes.

The UK, through HM Treasury’s Green Book, is widely viewed as having among the most mature frameworks for assessing, appraising and prioritising infrastructure investment. However, concerns over unequal investment levels throughout the country have resulted in the government conducting a review of the Green Book, potentially leading to a re-evaluation of the methodology and guidance that determines what gets built where, who benefits and how they benefit.

In a discussion paper, the Institution provides insights about the operation of the Green Book as it is applied to the infrastructure sector, and sets out a range of questions to help inform its policy views on how reform might achieve better outcomes from infrastructure investment.

Simon Webb, ICE Fellow who led the paper’s development, said:

“We know that infrastructure has a key role in ‘levelling up’ the UK and creating better outcomes for society and the environment. So, it is important that the appraisal and evaluation processes used to assess projects and programmes best enables this to happen.

“The last review of the Green Book came before the net-zero emissions target was enshrined in law. How to best bake long-term policy objectives like this into appraisal frameworks is something we are keen to hear views on, so I encourage all those working across the sector to engage with our consultation to help us contribute to the debate on how to place net-zero front and centre of decision making.”.

The consultation is part of an ongoing programme of policy work, looking at how to create a path to maximise the use of infrastructure systems to support a more sustainable future. It builds on a previous recommendation by the ICE to reform the Green Book to better reflect the net-zero target in project appraisals and assessments, as part of State of the Nation 2020: Infrastructure and the 2050 net-zero target.

The paper analyses the Green Book’s application and effectiveness in the sector and examines existing proposals that have been put forward for reform.

It sets out a series of questions the Institution wants the infrastructure sector’s thoughts on. This will inform the development of ICE policy in relation to how the Green Book can best be used to appraise infrastructure interventions.

The consultation questions include:

  • How should the Green Book and the appraisal process be reformed to better factor in strategic national objectives?
  • Does the urgency of the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target warrant the expansion of the Five Case Model to include a sixth net-zero case, or can this effectively be appraised against through the current methodology (e.g. the strategic case or supplementary guidance)?
  • How can the Green Book best account for social value and help achieve wider societal outcomes?
  • What, if any, are the limitations of the Green Book in achieving the government’s aim of ‘levelling up’ the country?
  • How can greater consistency of application of Green Book project appraisal be achieved across government, both local and central?

The consultation is open until Monday 9 November and all industry professionals are encouraged to submit their thoughts.

Download: Reforming the Green Book to achieve better outcomes from infrastructure investment: an ICE discussion paper

  • Matthew Rogerson, media relations executive at ICE