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ICE briefs Liberal Democrats transport team on Integrated Rail Plan policy paper

22 December 2022

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

ICE briefs Liberal Democrats transport team on Integrated Rail Plan policy paper
ICE Past President Rachel Skinner spoke to the Liberal Democrats transport team online. Image credit: Shutterstock

A team of Liberal Democrat parliamentarians and staff, led by Baroness Jenny Randerson, joined the ICE to hear more about the first joint policy paper from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) and the ICE: Accelerating delivery of the Integrated Rail Plan.

What did they say?

The ICE emphasised the three key takeaways from the policy paper: certainty, collaboration, and consultation.

The £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) is the biggest investment in decades in the North and Midlands’ historically under-funded rail infrastructure. But the plan lacks detail in many areas.

The IRP’s implementation offers an opportunity not only to level up transport in this region, but to inform a resilient, long-term national transport strategy for the whole of the UK.


ICE Past President Rachel Skinner spoke to the Liberal Democrats transport team online on Tuesday 6 December 2022.

Why this matters

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

Briefings such as this help equip decision-makers with an informed, expert-led view on the challenges and opportunities for the UK’s infrastructure systems and influence policymaking at both the local and national level.

While the UK’s transport system makes a significant contribution to economic and social prosperity, it is also the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

A strategic approach to transport infrastructure will therefore be critical to meet the UK’s net zero ambitions, as well as its economic and social goals.

The IRP has the potential to transform public transport in the North and Midlands and deliver benefits to the whole UK. But pipeline certainty and an integrated, strategic approach to investment will be instrumental in capitalising on this opportunity.

Experts and parliamentarians debate financing net zero challenges at ICE roundtable

leaves growing in coins
The panel included experts from politics, finance, and academia. Image credit: Shutterstock

Lord Tony Berkeley and shadow climate minister Alan Whitehead MP were among panellists discussing opportunities and challenges for financing net zero at a recent ICE online debate.

The panel, which included experts from politics, finance, and academia, discussed the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the context of a global energy crisis and economic turmoil. ICE trustee Jonathan Spruce chaired the discussion.

What did they say?

The panel discussed:

  • Financing a fair transition amid spiralling living costs
  • Reducing supply costs by decoupling, or separating, the price of electricity from the price of natural gas
  • Using data to inform a systems approach to energy infrastructure
  • Unifying private and public finance through infrastructure banks
  • Adopting a global view to better manage risks and limit costs
  • Accelerating and scaling up efforts to transition


Jonathan Spruce, ICE trustee for policy and external affairs, chaired the panel on Thursday 1 December. Read more and watch the recording.

Why this matters

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that to avoid irreversible environmental damage, we must limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this, we must halve global greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

According to the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), the potential cost of reaching net zero is less than 1% of GDP over the next 30 years, while the benefits will be worth far more. But achieving net zero will require a major retooling of both our infrastructure and our economy.

Furthermore, the energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising cost of living have made long-term energy security a political priority in the UK.

Approximately 70% of global emissions relate to either the creation or the use of infrastructure. Therefore, civil engineers can and should play a leading role in driving a fair and sustainable transition to net zero.

Building international capacity with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority

IPA Foundation Course
Every year, the IPA delivers a five-day training course for officials from overseas governments. Image credit: Jack Buckee

ICE Policy Fellow Tim Chapman introduced the fifth day of the latest Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) Infrastructure Foundation Course in London.

The IPA is the UK government's centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects. Reporting to the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, the IPA works to build capacity both in the UK and overseas.

Every year, the IPA delivers a five-day training course for officials from overseas governments.

What did they say?

Addressing 21 delegates – collectively representing 16 organisations across 9 different countries – Chapman set the scene for the final day of the course, which focused on sustainability and net zero.

IPA organisers thanked Chapman for adding “huge value to the programme” – confronting delegates with facts, pushing them out of their comfort zones, and setting out “brilliantly” the global challenges that should be high on every government’s agenda.

Feedback from delegates was universally positive, with praise for the logical, insightful, and transparent approach.


The IPA’s latest Infrastructure Foundation Course took place from 21-25 November 2022.

Why this matters

The ICE works closely with the IPA to support them across a range of their programmes, including IPA International’s efforts to promote infrastructure best practice to policymakers and other government officials around the world.

The consequences of climate change are already apparent. Reaching net zero is essential to avert a worsening emergency.

Furthermore, the transition has enormous potential to create jobs and revitalise communities.

Programmes such as the IPA Foundation Course help empower leaders, both locally and globally, with the confidence, knowledge, and resources to act on urgent global issues.

Engaging with such programmes is an opportunity for the ICE to make a potentially very positive and meaningful impact.

Lords Select Committee hears evidence from ICE on infrastructure policymaking

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Jonathan Spruce emphasised the importance of a clear infrastructure project pipeline. Image credit: Shutterstock
Jonathan Spruce

Jonathan Spruce

Jonathan Spruce, ICE trustee for policy and external affairs, has contributed evidence to the Built Environment Committee inquiry on infrastructure policymaking and implementation in central government.

Opened on 23 November 2023, the latest Lords Select Committee inquiry considers how central government defines, delivers, and supervises infrastructure in the UK.

The committee held its second formal evidence session in December.

What did he say?

Spruce emphasised the importance of a clear infrastructure project pipeline, reinforced by giving the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) a statutory footing in decision making.

“Infrastructure is ultimately about making people’s lives better,” Spruce said. “It’s really important to give that long-term certainty of what infrastructure we need.”

His evidence covered three key points, including:

  • The need to transition to net zero by 2050, and the unprecedented complexity and scale of the challenge this poses.
  • The importance of the NIC and a strategic approach to infrastructure planning that views infrastructure as an investment, not a cost.
  • The practices and processes the industry is already using to improve infrastructure delivery, and how the government can better support this.


The session took place on Tuesday 13 December 2022. Find out more and watch the recording at

Why this matters

The ICE’s vision is a world that maximises the use of infrastructure systems to support sustainable outcomes. This means having the right frameworks, using the right appraisal and funding mechanisms, and delivering the right projects.

The NIC conducts in-depth research into the UK’s infrastructure needs. Translating this insight into policymaking will be instrumental in meeting the challenges we face, including population growth, decarbonisation, economic recovery, regional inequality, and health and wellbeing.

The Lords Select Committee on the Built Environment considers matters relating to housing, planning, transport, and infrastructure. Committee inquiries typically result in the publication of reports, which influence policymaking at the national level.

ICE policy fellows represent the institution and its members to policy and decision-makers around the world, helping us encourage governments to use infrastructure to deliver a more sustainable world.

Find out more about the ICE policy fellow programme.

ICE and APPGI lead the debate on accelerating the Integrated Rail Plan

Avanti West Coast Pendolino train
The report highlights the importance of infrastructure programmes like the IRP. Image credit: Avanti West Coast

A new report, Accelerating the delivery of the Integrated Rail Plan, has been launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) and the ICE.

This report follows the UK government's publication of the £96 billion Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands in 2021.

Earlier this year, the APPGI and the ICE consulted on how we can accelerate the implementation of this vital investment in public transport and a low-carbon transport future.

This report was launched at an in-person event with a panel of prominent parliamentarians and industry experts.


Chairing the panel for the launch of the event was Andrew Jones MP, chair of the APPGI.

With him was Huw Merriman MP, then-chair of the Transport Select Committee, and Ruth Cadbury MP, member of the Transport Select Committee.

They were joined by ICE Policy Fellow Michèle Dix and Karen Heppenstall, head of Rail at Midlands Connect.

We were also joined by then-Transport Minister Kevin Foster MP.

What did they say?

Andrew Jones MP, a former transport minister, said: "The UK needs these projects to be successful, both to level up underperforming regions and to help the country meet its net zero objectives.

"Our recommendations provide a framework that the whole industry can work from.

"Once applied to the IRP schemes, a clear project timeline and spending schedule can be developed, allowing us to get to work on transforming public transport in the North and Midlands.

"Insight from industry professionals has highlighted their concerns on what is holding back delivery."

Rachel Skinner, executive director at WSP, member of the APPGI steering group, and Immediate Past President of ICE, said: "Planning and paying for major infrastructure projects is a significant undertaking.

"When you add net zero requirements and objectives to reduce regional economic disparity into the mix, the challenges only grow.

"A robust set of guiding principles that bring clarity to how we prioritise projects and guide investment will streamline the delivery of the IRP and similar projects and keep industry on track."


The IRP launch event took place on 19 October 2022.

Why this matters

With changing governments, it's important to keep a focus on strategically important infrastructure development high on the agenda.

This joint paper is available for all parliamentarians and decision-makers of all political persuasions.

It highlights the importance of infrastructure programmes such as the IRP in decarbonising transport and improving journey quality, affordability and reliability.

The paper also provides recommendations for accelerating national infrastructure projects across the UK, including looking at strategic planning.

The ICE will continue to work with parliamentarians and decision-makers to increase awareness of the importance of strategic and sustainable infrastructure development for the benefit of people and planet.

UK parliamentary committee draws on ICE evidence in new report

tram in Nottingham
Tram in Nottingham. Image credit: Shutterstock

A report, Public transport in towns and cities, from the UK House of Lords includes evidence submitted by the ICE.


The Built Environment Select Committee report looks at the impact of Covid-19 on transport networks.

What did they say?

The report calls on the government to address the factors inhibiting the delivery of high-quality public transport services.

These include:

  • cuts to bus services;
  • wasteful competitive bidding processes;
  • services not designed around passenger needs; and
  • insufficiently joined-up transport and spatial planning.

It also explores:

  • the role technology can play in enhancing connectivity across and within modes;
  • how ticketing should be reformed; and
  • how local governments can be supported to deliver better services across different geographical regions.


The report was published on 9 November 2022.

Why this matters

In our submission, the ICE highlighted that it remains unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect public transport demand and travel patterns in the next decade.

However, the ICE’s work on Covid-19 and the new normal identified that future infrastructure planning should still be driven by existing long-term challenges.

These include population growth, rebalancing the economy, meeting carbon emission reduction targets, and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).

Treasury responds to ICE recommendation on National Infrastructure Strategy

Stephen Hammond MP
Stephen Hammond MP. Image credit: UK Parliament

In the UK Parliament, there was a written parliamentary question asking the government about an ICE recommendation to put the National Infrastructure Strategy on a statutory footing to provide more guidance for the UK Infrastructure Bank.


APPGI officer Stephen Hammond MP asked the Treasury about this issue.

What did they say?

Stephen Hammond MP asked: "What assessment he has made for the implication of his policies of the Institution of Civil Engineers' recommendation that the National Infrastructure Strategy should be on a statutory footing to provide more clarity and guidance on where the UK Infrastructure Bank should focus."

Andrew Griffith MP, the then-financial secretary to the Treasury, replied: "The government is committed to delivery of infrastructure commitments – including those set out in the National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS) – to improve the UK’s energy security, transport networks and digital connectivity.

There are no plans to legislate for the NIS."


The written parliamentary question was answered on 15 September 2022.

Why this matters

The UK Infrastructure Bank Bill offers an opportunity to strengthen strategic decision-making.

It allows for more joined-up decision making and a stronger focus on outcomes across the different policy areas of what to build, how to pay for it, and how to deliver effectively and efficiently.

One way would be to add a formal mechanism in the bill for setting up and regularly updating the National Infrastructure Strategy.

This would ensure the UK maintains an overall strategic framework.

In turn, this would guide long-term infrastructure planning and help the bank make effective decisions.

The ICE will continue to work with parliamentarians as the bill progresses to make the case for the National Infrastructure Strategy to be on a statutory footing.

  • Ben Gosling, speechwriter and policy content manager at ICE
  • Rob Beahan, head of external affairs at ICE