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UK politicians draw on ICE polls in road pricing debate

Date
18 March 2022

Rounding up the latest policy and political engagement activities from ICE.

UK politicians draw on ICE polls in road pricing debate
It is particularly important that UK politicians consider issues around road pricing as fossil fuels are replaced by zero-emissions alternatives. Image credit: Aerial G/Shutterstock

UK politicians draw on ICE polls in road pricing debate

Sarah Olney MP profile photo

Sarah Olney MP

Gavin Newlands MP

Gavin Newlands MP

UK Members of Parliament debated road pricing and the need to future-proof the country’s road networks in a Westminster Hall debate.

ICE was referenced by two MPs during the debate. Our policy paper on pay-as-you-go roads and how to achieve sustainable roads funding in England helped frame MPs’ opinions.

What did they say?

Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport and Business, and Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Polling undertaken by YouGov for the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2019 suggested that a pay-as-you-go model of road pricing has popular support—47% of British adults stated that they would support a pay-as-you-go model if it replaced both vehicle excise duty and fuel duty, and just 23% opposed.”

Gavin Newlands MP, SNP Spokesperson for transport, agreed with Sarah’s remarks, commenting: “Sarah Olney said that the case for change was pressing, if we are to maintain taxation levels and reduce road transport’s carbon footprint."

“Members will hear from my speech that that is something I wholeheartedly agree with. She also referenced the report by the Institution of Civil Engineers, which means I do not have to; for the purposes of time, I am grateful for that.”

When

Westminster Hall Debate on smart road pricing, 09 March 2022.

Why this matters

Roads are one of the most important and valuable infrastructure assets in the UK.

Ensuring sustainable revenue for maintenance and upgrades is crucial for the UK’s future economic and social wellbeing.

It is particularly important that UK politicians consider issues around road pricing as fossil fuels are replaced by zero-emissions alternatives. This means revenue from these sources will dwindle.

ICE estimates that the UK government has until the end of the decade to implement a fair, reliable and sustainable system which replaces fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty. ICE polling indicates there is public support for these measures.

ICE will continue to make the case for long-term, sustainable funding for the UK’s road networks.

Energy National Policy Statement (NPS) backs ICE’s call, plus APPGI welcomes Rishi Sunak.

Darren Jones, BEIS Select Committee chair

Darren Jones, BEIS Select Committee chair

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

A new report from the UK Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee on the UK government’s (Draft) Energy National Policy Statement (NPS) has backed the ICE’s call for a single, overarching NPS for all economic infrastructure sectors.

This was following the ICE giving evidence to the committee on this inquiry at the end of last year, and the ongoing support that ICE calls have received from UK politicians.

The ICE first mooted these recommendations on how to improve strategic infrastructure planning in July last year, and our progress on securing political support for them was outlined in our last update.

Meanwhile, at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Infrastructure (APPGI)'s first in-person event since the pandemic started, policymakers and industry leaders came together at ICE HQ, One Great George Street. The drinks reception focused on what 2022 holds for infrastructure.

Keynote speakers included Rishi Sunak, APPGI chair Andrew Jones MP, and the chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt.

What did they say?

The UK BEIS Select Committee report referenced the ICE a number of times.

It directly met its calls by recommending that: “the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy work with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to consider the potential merits of implementing a single National Policy Statement across sectors with sub-sector statements linked to different technology developments.”

ICE’s press comment was also reported in the Financial Times.

At the APPGI reception, Rishi Sunak laid out the UK government’s ambition for infrastructure in 2022, commenting: "I believe we in government are now delivering an infrastructure revolution in the 21st century."

"We are investing over this Parliament, the most public sector investment of over £600 billion. Net investment will reach its highest sustained levels, as a proportion of GDP, in over half a century."

When

BEIS Select Committee report on Revised (Draft) National Policy Statement for Energy, 25 February; APPGI reception, 23 February.

Why this matters?

The UK chancellor has overarching responsibility for the UK government’s infrastructure strategy and approach to investment.

Welcoming him to the ICE HQ to address the APPGI and industry leaders was a positive indication of infrastructure remaining a high priority for the government, and a central plank in its plan for growth.

The high-profile BEIS Select Committee’s endorsement of ICE’s recommendation calling for a single NPS to cover all economic infrastructure sectors is an important step towards the UK government also adopting our calls.

Adoption would help improve the relationship between national infrastructure strategy and planning policy, driving forward infrastructure development in a consistent way on issues such as climate change.

The committee has asked the government to review this recommendation and report on progress in 12 months, and we'll continue to work closely with policymakers on this.

UK politicians show support for ICE policy calls on active travel and energy

Trudy Harrison MP, UK Transport Minister

Trudy Harrison MP, UK Transport Minister

Rt Hon Christopher Pincher, UK Housing Minister

Rt Hon Christopher Pincher, UK Housing Minister

What did they say?

Trudy Harrison referenced ICE's policy insights in a written answer about what should be in the second Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy for England (CWIS2).

Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Transport, and International Trade, drew on ICE’s recent policy paper when asking the UK government about what will be in CWIS2 this April.

In her response, Trudy Harrison referenced having held “constructive discussions with the Institution of Civil Engineers in the autumn of 2021 as part of the process of developing CWIS2.”

Meanwhile, Christopher Pincher agreed with ICE calls for Energy National Policy Statements to interconnect effectively in a select committee.

In an oral evidence session on Energy National Policy Statements (NPSs), Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi asked: “The energy NPS is one part of the planning process for future energy infrastructure. The Institution of Civil Engineers has told us that the NPS should not be expected to do all the heavy lifting on its own.

"How well do the revised NPSs fit in with the other aspects of the planning system?”

The minister replied in support of ICE’s calls: "If the Institution of Civil Engineers meant the energy NPS, then it is absolutely right, because we need to make sure that the NPSs interconnect effectively.

"There are other important NPSs that may have a bearing on energy infrastructure,such as transport and wastewater. Defra’s NPSs may be another example.

"We want to make sure that we are achieving more effective and efficient consistency across the NPS landscape, so in that context the institute is absolutely right."

When

Written Parliamentary Question, 27 January; UK BEIS Select Committee oral evidence session on Energy NPSs, 18 January.

Why this matters?

One of ICE’s core functions is to provide independent policy expertise to parliamentarians from all parties.

Following the publication of our recent insights paper, and with CWIS2 due to be published in April, ICE will continue to engage with the Department for Transport and interested parliamentarians to ensure that the UK government’s vision of a “world-class cycling and walking network in England by 2040” can be realised.

Energy NPSs are important because they set out the UK government’s policy for the delivery of energy infrastructure and provide a legal framework for decisions.

In the evidence that ICE gave to the BEIS Select Committee before Christmas, we called for the government to move away from sector-specific NPSs and towards one single NPS for infrastructure - therefore political support for a more joined-up approach, from both an opposition MP and a minister, is welcome.

Infrastructure Australia shares best practice for delivering infrastructure

Romilly Madew, CEO at Infrastructure Australia
Romilly Madew, CEO at Infrastructure Australia

What did they say?

Infrastructure Australia presented its Deliverability Roadmap for best practice to senior stakeholders from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Middle East at a global roundtable discussion about improving the delivery of infrastructure around the world.

Attendees shared the challenges they are facing and the international lessons that can be learned when it comes to future strategic planning.

When

ICE Presidential Breakfast, 19 January 2022

Why this matters?

Many countries around the world are asking the same question as they adapt to the challenges of climate change, decarbonisation and recovering from Covid-19 – how can we improve the deliverability of our infrastructure, in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency?

ICE has a role to play in convening policy thinkers from across the globe to explore what the UK can learn from other countries and identify possible solutions to these challenges.

At this Presidential Breakfast, the overwhelming message was the need for improved collaboration to help support future infrastructure delivery.

  • Joanna Gonet, lead public affairs manager at ICE