Skip to content
ICE Community blog

ICE President Keith Howells visits Scotland

05 December 2022

In his debut blog, ICE President Keith Howells recounts his visit to Scotland, including project tours and a roundtable discussion.

ICE President Keith Howells visits Scotland
The ICE president extends his gratitude to everyone who made this Scotland visit possible.

Last week I visited Scotland to attend the Glasgow and West of Scotland (GWoS) Annual dinner and awards.

I also took the opportunity to visit a couple of projects and host a round table discussion on decarbonisation with senior industry figures.

First stop: the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

The first visit was to the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), currently under construction.

The NMIS is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland - a 52ha site adjacent to Glasgow Airport which has a key role in Scotland’s transition to a highly skilled, low-carbon economy.

Infrastructure works including new roads, bridges, cycling routes and pedestrian footpaths are now complete and these have also improved access to the nearby Westway and Inchinnan Business Parks.

The NMIS is an attractive, high quality, low carbon building which will provide facilities for companies wishing to prototype advanced manufacturing solutions using, for example, 3-D printing technology.

It combines a factory floor for the advanced equipment alongside collaboration areas, meeting rooms and office space.

One of the building innovations is to use wastewater from a nearby sewage treatment works as a source of heat (via a heat exchanger) for the building.

Next stop: Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area

The second site visit was to the £250million Sighthill Transformational Regeneration Area (TRA) - the biggest regeneration project in the UK outside of London including 1,000 new homes, a new school and commercial space as well as improved community/green space featuring a public square.

When complete, the project will have created a new neighbourhood on the north side of the city centre, just 15 minutes’ walk from George Square.

One of the key elements of the project is a new foot and cycle bridge over the M8 motorway.

The structure is made of weathering steel, which reflects the area's industrial heritage and will result in lower maintenance costs.

The bridge is a classic example of how infrastructure delivers outcomes - a solution which connects communities and acts as a catalyst to help regenerate a former, derelict industrial site.

Coming together

The roundtable discussion highlighted the substantial effort going into decarbonising infrastructure in Scotland.

It was very encouraging to hear about the work ongoing (and planned) in renewable energy, particularly the plans for offshore wind, as well as the progress being made in the water sector and in transport, with active travel and public transport projects (including the potential for a Glasgow Metro system), at the fore.

It was very encouraging to hear about the work ongoing (and planned) in renewable energy, particularly the plans for offshore wind, as well as the progress being made in the water sector and in transport...

Keith Howells

The dinner was a lively affair with 800 guests, and it was great, post-pandemic, to once again be able to meet in person.

There was a pre-dinner reception for people with more than 50 years as ICE members – a remarkable 150 turned up.

Apart from the usual speeches, various awards were presented to STEM ambassadors, emerging engineers and others, and the party was still in full swing as I headed for bed at about 1am.

Des Clarke, a local comedian, acted as master of ceremonies and added to the frivolity of the occasion.

A big thank you to Ben Westland, regional director, Donald Bell, chair ICE Scotland and Kirsty Jamieson, chair GWoS for their support during my visit, and also to all those who helped arrange the dinner and site visits.

Watch Keith Howells' presidential address

  • Keith Howells, president 2022/23 at Institution of Civil Engineers