Today's meeting in Nottingham was one of a series of meetings hosted locally by ICE East Midlands, but gains particular significance in the light of today's announcement by the Chancellor, George Osborne, of the appointment of Lord Adonis to chair a new body to plan new infrastructure projects. The Chancellor will also announce a pledge of an extra £5bn in this Parliament for major schemes.
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Director General, Nick Baveystock, said:
"This is a bold and positive move by Government. Infrastructure must be planned for the long term and the pressing need for an independent body, as a mechanism to build political consensus, has been recognised. We look forward to working with the Commission - ICE has already convened a coalition of business, industry and academic leaders to produce an evidence based assessment of the UK's future infrastructure needs and we hope this can feed into the work. This is about making the right strategic choices."
The meeting, chaired by Adrian Coy, ICE Vice President, was also attended by representatives from Highways England, Construction Industry Council, County and City Councils across the region HM Treasury was represented by Alan Couzens, Head of Infrastructure and Reporting, Infrastructure UK.
The talks covered the intent of publishing an initial regional infrastructure pipeline for the East Midlands. As part of the regional focus, the working group talked at length about removing the uncertainty from regional projects and how to provide clear, robust and useful information for the built environment supply chain. Issues identified for discussion included achieving wider collaboration between client and contractors, focusing on supply chain skills shortages and how smaller contractors will need to ensure they have the skills base to deliver.
Adrian Coy, ICE Vice President said that Infrastructure Intelligence's response to the latest National Infrastructure Plan for Skills summarised the situation; "a historic lack of clear, regional pipelines across the UK meaning that clients and suppliers do not have a coherent, long-term picture of demand across regions. The lack of visibility and certainty of a forward pipeline has been cited by industry as a key barrier to investing in skills."
Molly McKenzie, Regional Director added, "It is important for industry as a whole to have access to reliable project projection information. They need to plan their work flows and resourcing based on robust information to ensure economic security for the region. ICE is pleased to be supporting the work of D2N2 in facilitating the advancement of this project."
Infrastructure is the backbone for the UK economy. It provides the networks and systems that supply and support reliable and cost effective transport, flood protection, energy, communications, water and waste management. These are vital to ensuring that the UK remains a competitive force in the global race. The government is committed to establishing a long-term sustainable plan for infrastructure investment.
Infrastructure UK (IUK)'s Cost Review Report 2010 identified the opportunity to improve infrastructure delivery. It set a target to remove wastage and make efficiency savings of at least 15 per cent by 2015 across public and private sector infrastructure delivery. The government's Construction 2025 Strategy goes further, setting a target of lowering costs by 30 per cent and reducing time by 50 per cent.
Photo: Attendees from left to right: Molly McKenzie - ICE EM Regional Director, Adrian Coy - ICE Vice President, Maria Willis - Construction Industry Council, Gavin Miller – ICE Policy Manager, Jim Seymour – Derbyshire County Council, Kamaljait Khokhar – Highways England and Alan Couzens – Infrastructure UK.