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Infrastructure blog

How investing in infrastructure can build a better quality of life

07 May 2021

As the ICE Wales Cymru manifesto publishes ahead of Welsh elections, Director, Keith Jones, outlines how, by investing in Wales’ infrastructure, engineers can build better quality of life.

How investing in infrastructure can build a better quality of life

Every five years, in the approach to the Welsh Parliament /Senedd Cymru elections, I put together a Manifesto for ICE Wales Cymru outlining our recommendations for the future with the aim of influencing the new ‘order’ and achieving what we consider to be important goals. This year our report is making three main recommendations in the areas of Resilience, Skills and an Infrastructure Pipeline.

Reaching our full energy potential

In our report, we call on all parties to resolve their differing views on the devolution of energy powers to Wales so that the country can realise its full energy potential.

I firmly believe, in its use of ecological foot-printing, Wales is leading the way forward in targeting reductions. ICE Wales Cymru promotes and supports the innovative development of renewable energy technologies, particularly wind and marine power. We also recognise the need for strict energy efficiency standards for buildings, as a key factor towards zero carbon.

As the voice of infrastructure in Wales, our three recommendations aim to achieve this:

Resilience - Our report states that Wales must continue to invest in new and existing infrastructure assets and speed the transition to a zero-carbon economy if we are to achieve the Welsh and UK government target of net zero by 2050. By having the ability to address the infrastructure directly we can choose which materials to use e.g. wave, wind or tidal power instead of the traditional Welsh power of coal.

Skills - ICE Wales Cymru firmly believes we must continue to invest to grow the next generation of engineers and upskill our current workforce so that we can deliver infrastructure that drives our economy and society. To deliver the skills required our report recommends that investment in apprenticeship initiatives must continue. As a Board Member of the Wales Apprenticeship Alliance, we work with universities and colleges across the country. We are also involved in a campaign to attract the 16 –18 year-old into the field. Furthermore, I would like to see the development of accredited engineering courses particularly in North Wales established.

Infrastructure Pipeline - The Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP) must be progressed to develop a pipeline of infrastructure projects with clearly marked and agreed timelines developed and supported by the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales. WIIP for growth and jobs is the first step in delivering a long-term approach to infrastructure provision for our country.

We are calling for clear visibility of the infrastructure projects planned and underway – short and long term - in order to achieve this and recommend that Wales needs a joined-up infrastructure vision, developed through engagement with governments, clients, investors, operators and delivery teams and looking forward to the next twenty five years.

Investment and management now and in the future

This winter, as in recent years, attention has been brought to the extensive flooding in Wales. Our call is to place flood risk management at the heart of urban design. Current estimates show that over 245,000 properties in Wales are at risk of flooding from rivers, sea and surface water.

Our report calls for a different approach to flood risk management one ICE Wales Cymru feels is required for the future. For example: The majority of properties at risk from coastal erosion in Wales would not be affected until the medium to long term, i.e. within the next 30-100 years so it is essential that we begin to plan now. This will help meet our climate change obligations but will take a collaborative approach to achieve.

Wales not only needs ongoing investment in flood risk management, but also to protect the current service levels of infrastructure, ensuring that Wales is well-placed to take advantage of greater economic prosperity. We need to improve infrastructure delivery – infrastructure projects and programmes - that embed sustainable outcomes for society from the outset, and use them to guide infrastructure planning, construction, handover and operation.

It is my hope that, as we move cautiously out of lockdowns and by stating these points clearly in our Manifesto, government, associates and affiliates in Wales will join with ICE Wales Cymru and work collaboratively to achieve a sustainable environment, a healthy community and a secure economy for all.

Read the full manifesto

  • Keith Jones FICE, regional director at Institution of Civil Engineers, Wales Cymru