ICE leads coalition in call for evidence on future infrastructure needs

The Institution is chairing a coalition of business, industry, academic and environment leaders who have issued a nationwide call for evidence to inform an independent assessment of the UK’s future infrastructure needs and how they could be met.

The eventual report will inform the work of the National Infrastructure Commission
The eventual report will inform the work of the National Infrastructure Commission

The coalition undertaking the 'National Needs Assessment' is being chaired by ICE President and National Infrastructure Commissioner Sir John Armitt, who announced its launch at his ICE presidential address in November. It includes ICE, CBI, KPMG, Pinsent Masons, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Graham Dalton (former Highways Agency CEO), National Grid, London First, Green Alliance, Transport for Greater Manchester, Thames Water and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

The needs assessment will be based on evidence gathered during the nationwide consultation launched today, evidence hearings, research being undertaken by the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium, and a vast pool of data and analysis. It will take into account factors such as climate change, population growth and technological 'game changers'. It will also review different options for meeting the UK's needs, considering affordability, public acceptability and environmental obligations. A report will be published in October 2016 setting out a vision for UK infrastructure up to 2050 and a series of interventions Government and industry will need to make to realise the vision.

Sir John Armitt said: "Effective infrastructure drives growth, supports job creation and creates thriving, sustainable societies. But infrastructure is expensive, can be disruptive during construction, and requires fine political judgement so resources are best used to meet the country's needs.

The National Infrastructure Commission has been established to provide dispassionate analysis on these long term needs, and act as a catalyst for reaching consensus so vital projects are built. The recommendations it makes must therefore be robust, evidence based and help policy-makers with the often difficult and controversial decisions they have to take.

This coalition of leading organisations has united to provide the Commission with an independent view on infrastructure, which it can feed into its work. We all share a common goal – the development of a long term infrastructure strategy which drives the economic growth necessary to enhance the UK's position in the global economy, support a high quality of life and enable a shift to a low carbon future."

ICE has been instrumental in providing its knowledge and expertise to the National Infrastructure Commission since its inception through a series of submissions on subjects ranging from transport and the Northern Powerhouse to electricity storage. Supported by a new Twitter hashtag #UKInfraNeeds, the 'National Needs Assessment' is the latest high profile piece of work demonstrating that ICE is at the heart of the infrastructure debate.

Coalition partners in quotes

The coalition partners were united in their support for the 'National Needs Assessment' in helping towards a more long term approach to infrastructure planning and investment.

Richard Threlfall, UK Head of Infrastructure, Building and Construction at KPMG:

"At the heart of the National Needs Assessment lies a very simple question – what infrastructure does the UK need, over the next 35 years, to ensure its economic success? For years the UK has muddled through with a stop-start, piecemeal approach to infrastructure investment but today we begin a journey to create a long-term, evidence-based approach to determining the UK's infrastructure needs. I hope plenty of organisations and individuals will respond to the consultation so we can draw on a diverse range of perspectives and as much experience as possible in this important endeavour."

Graham Dalton, Former Highways Agency CEO:

"The National Infrastructure Commission has a vital role to play in setting out the UK's needs for major infrastructure for the coming decades. I am delighted to be part of a team that can offer it a carefully thought through, independent assessment of the infrastructure required to support better lives and a stronger economy.

"This is the first time in my career that such a group has really come together to plan for the long term. It is a great opportunity to plan vital large scale investment, and set out the facts so we can have a properly informed debate about where and how that investment should be directed."

Dr Jon Lamonte, Chief Executive of Transport for Greater Manchester:

"We are delighted to be playing a key role in the National Needs Assessment. For the cities of the Northern Powerhouse, greater connectivity is vital to securing the prize of economic growth and prosperity. Only through thorough analysis can the right projects be identified and prioritised to make the transformational changes the North really needs."

Steve Holliday, National Grid CEO:

"Infrastructure carries the life blood of our nation. It is essential to our way of life but we must recognise the impact it can have on local communities and the environment. Finding the right balance between all these things is crucial. We welcome initiatives like this that help long-term planning for the UK's infrastructure needs, essential to getting the right answers for future generations."

Matthew Spencer, Director, Green Alliance:

"Today's infrastructure decisions determine tomorrow's economy. To caricature the choices we could have a tarmac dominated strategy that reinforces the current imbalance in the UK economy and increases pollution, or we could have transport and energy systems that encourage smart technology, facilitate sustainable growth outside the South East and reduce our environmental footprint. I would encourage civil society and local government to engage with this important initiative by the Institution of Civil Engineers."

Professor Jim Hall, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, University of Oxford:

"There have been many calls over the last few years for the UK to develop a strategic long-term approach to infrastructure provision. Until now, no such strategy has emerged. So now we are taking on that challenge. The National Needs Assessment will look into the future to develop a vision for the UK's infrastructure systems, and then work out how we can reach that vision – efficiently, affordably, reliably and meeting the nation's carbon reduction commitments."

Professor Lord Robert Mair, Head of Civil Engineering at Cambridge University:

"The National Needs Assessment will develop a long-term vision for UK infrastructure development - with the important objective of providing decision-makers with clear, evidence based strategic options for policy making and investment programmes. A key element will be the consideration of new and emerging technologies and disruptive trends that may influence future infrastructure needs."

Richard Laudy, Head of infrastructure at Pinsent Masons:

"The UK lacks a coherent infrastructure strategy which is why the formation of the National Infrastructure Commission is such a positive step forward. The strategy needs to be informed by independent, evidence-based analysis by the Commission. The long term, strategic approach to infrastructure planning as initially advocated by the Armitt Review in 2013 is crucial to the future of our national infrastructure. In essence, a culture change is required in the UK as to how we plan for our infrastructure needs and the NIC could be the driver behind that change.

"The experience and outputs of the National Needs Assessment will be invaluable in helping the Commission to develop its thinking as it prepares to undertake its first National Infrastructure Assessment. The National Needs Assessment will ensure that a wide range of views is canvassed with all major stakeholders engaged. This level of engagement will strike at the heart of the issue of the UK's ailing infrastructure and will directly assist the NIC as a key input to its National Infrastructure Assessment work."

Gareth Williams, Director of Policy, Scottish Council for Development and Industry:

"Infrastructure developments will underpin the productivity, innovation and internationalisation improvements which the Scottish and UK economy need. There is substantial investment in Scotland's infrastructure, but recent problems, such as the closure of the Forth Road Bridge and flooding, illustrate its fragilities.

"With responsibilities for infrastructure in Scotland shared by the UK and Scottish governments and further devolution and regional decentralisation taking place, long-term, joined-up policy, investment and delivery is required – for example, on energy, connectivity between Scotland, the Northern Powerhouse and London.

"We will develop independent, evidence-based and commonly agreed recommendations from a Scottish perspective on the priorities to strengthen and transform our economic infrastructure, such as technological and low carbon, to increase long-term growth and prosperity in Scotland and across the UK."