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Infrastructure blog

ICE sets out infrastructure priorities to parliamentary select committees

20 October 2020

ICE has submitted evidence to a number of select committee inquiries highlighting priority investment areas in infrastructure to help fuel the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for a comprehensive plan to deliver net-zero emissions.

 ICE sets out infrastructure priorities to parliamentary select committees
ICE has made three submissions to infrastructure focused select committee inquiries. Image credit: Shutterstock

During August and September ICE’s policy and public affairs team made submissions to three parliamentary select committee inquiries setting out what the Institution believes are the short, medium and long-term investment priorities for the UK’s infrastructure networks, alongside the policy steps that are required to ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is one that is focused on green growth.

Now that each inquiry has published our evidence, we are able to share the details of what we submitted.

The inquiries that evidence was submitted to were:

What did our submissions say?

The submissions were focused on replaying the recommendations that we had developed through our white paper on the new normal for the UK’s infrastructure networks following the pandemic, alongside this year’s State of the Nation report examining the policy steps required to ensure that the infrastructure sector plays its part in the economy achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Short, medium and long-term investment priorities

Covid-19 has broken down many longstanding conventions in relation to working practices. For example, lockdown and social distancing measures have restricted, for many, the ability to travel to and from their offices. This has not simply meant that work has stopped. Instead hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have switched to remote working during this time. A switch that has been very effective.

Going forward it is possible that many workers will continue to want to work remotely. After all, time spent not travelling can be used on other more productive tasks and not doing so also means saving money. Short-term investment in the rollout of full-fibre and 5G connectivity will be necessary to continue to facilitate this shift country wide.

More localised living because of the pandemic has also seen participation in active forms of travel increase. This means more of us walking, running, and cycling. Ensuring that people can continue to engage in these activities effectively and safely will require more investment in the infrastructure that supports them. A point made in each of our select committee submissions.

The longer-term drivers of infrastructure demand have arguably been less affected by the pandemic. We know that the UK’s population will continue to rise long into the future and that taking steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change will remain significant challenges, requiring substantive investment and policy effort to address.

In addition, there are many occupations (in construction, healthcare and hospitality) whereby remote working is not possible, so investment and the development of a transport system that continues to support workers who must travel still remains fundamental.

The need for a net-zero infrastructure plan

The recovery from the pandemic must be a green one. On this point our submissions also highlighted the need for government to put in place a dedicated net-zero infrastructure plan setting out how the UK’s power, heat and transport networks, alongside heavy industry, can be put on a more sustainable footing.

As recommended in our State of the Nation report for 2020, this plan should be included as part of the publication of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy that we are expecting in the autumn alongside the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The technologies and mechanisms to enable the UK’s infrastructure networks to transition to net-zero already exist. Government, in partnership with industry, must take the tough policy choices that ensures their widespread use across the infrastructure sector.

Read our submissions

Our submissions to the three select committee inquiries are below. If ICE is asked to provide oral evidence to any of these inquiries we will provide details of who will be representing the Institution, and when, through the Infrastructure blog.

  • Ben Goodwin, lead policy manager at ICE