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Experts welcome East Midlands Infrastructure Partnership to help build better future

25 April 2023

The partnership held its first seminar with cross-sector experts last week, hosted by the ICE and East Midlands councils.

Experts welcome East Midlands Infrastructure Partnership to help build better future
Delegates heard about the fusion plans for West Burton Power Station. Image credit: Shutterstock

The East Midlands Infrastructure Partnership (EMIP) can improve cross-sector infrastructure planning and prioritsation in the region, guests concluded at the partnership’s first seminar last week.

The EMIP was set up last year to increase collaboration among key stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to the region's current and future infrastructure challenges.

Hosted by the ICE and East Midlands councils, seminar attendees focused on challenges across transport, flood resilience and energy. More specifically:

  • The region receives the lowest level of transport funding in the country
  • The region has a high risk of flooding in many areas
  • Many of the region’s traditional power stations are being decommissioned or repurposed

Getting experts together

EMIP seminar
Seminar attendees heard from experts from transport, flood resilience, energy and digital.

Delegates heard from:

  • Neale Coleman CBE and Andrew Jones from the National Infrastructure Commission
  • Chris Hobson from the East Midlands Chamber
  • Andy Gutherson, executive director of place at Lincolnshire County Council and chair of the Midlands Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT)
  • Experts from the transport, flood resilience, energy and digitalisation sectors

With the second National Infrastructure Assessment due to be published in the autumn, Coleman highlighted three pillars he believes will be critical for development in any region:

  1. Building better infrastructure to achieve net zero by 2050
  2. Having infrastructure which is resilient to climate change
  3. Economic growth across all regions of the UK (often referred to as ‘levelling up’)

Levelling up the East Midlands

Hobson outlined both the opportunities and challenges of ‘levelling up’ in the East Midlands.

Although the region has significant potential for growth, it’s much easier to do business in the West Midlands by comparison due to devolution.

When major projects are ‘on then off’, it makes it difficult for businesses to commit on future promises, and inflation continues to be a major concern.

Hobson welcomed the EMIP, which he believes can provide an opportunity for businesses to engage with local authorities and those working in infrastructure directly.

Gutherson provided some examples of successful partnerships working in Lincolnshire, reiterating that it’s now more important than ever that the public and private sectors work together.

There’s a high risk with regards to skills and knowledge in the region, particularly as major national projects have made it difficult to recruit and retain resources locally.

Cross-sector insight

Delegates also heard from:

  • Saranne Postans at the UK Atomic Energy Authority about the fusion plans for West Burton;
  • Jim Anderson at the Environment Agency about the Boston Barrier project which has reduced the risk of flooding in one of the most deprived towns in the country;
  • Matt Lamb at Newark and Sherwood District Council about how confidence in key policy decisions can bring wider investment and tangible benefits locally; and
  • Mark Enzer from Mott MacDonald about Digital Twins.

Attendees concluded that there’s a very real requirement for the EMIP.

Next steps to be considered are how to add value to infrastructure planning in the region and ensure this is fed into the government’s national plans.

  • Deanna Newman, communications lead, East Midlands and West Midlands at ICE