The Times, the Independent and a host of industry and regional publications were quick to report on the ICE led National Needs Assessment (NNA) when it was launched at Sir John Armitt's Presidential Address last November, and the media has been covering its progress closely ever since.
The nationwide call for written evidence featured in over 20 trade publications, covering engineering, construction, water, waste, transport, energy, planning, local government and environment sectors along with regional titles. This enabled the NNA Executive Group to reach many facets of the industry and open up the debate.
This coverage was followed with opinion pieces by thought leaders on the Executive Group - including Graham Dalton, former Highways Agency CEO, Lord Robert Mair, University of Cambridge, Jon Lamonte, Transport for Greater Manchester and Robbie Owen, Pinsent Masons. Each stressed the need for a robust, independent evidence base to help inform long term infrastructure decision making. A letter to the editor from Sir John Armitt, making the same point, was published in the Times.
The next phase of evidence gathering for the NNA centred on physical engagement, through conferences and workshops held all over the UK during March and April. Media attended many events, interviewing NNA Executive Group members and reporting on the debates.
ICE NI Director Richard Kirk spoke on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Business programme about Northern Ireland's top infrastructure needs will be heading into the year 2050. The West Midlands event made front page news of the Coventry Evening Telegraph, a comment piece was published in Manchester Confidential on the North West event and an expert opinion piece was published in City AM around the workshop in London on technology and disruptive trends. Journalists from both national and trade publications attended the final conference on 27th April in London.
Trade media also carried comment pieces following the evidence gathering sessions. A viewpoint by NNA Executive Group members KPMG was published in Building magazine following an investment workshop, and a viewpoint by Pinsent Mason's on better public engagement on infrastructure was published in Infrastructure Intelligence. A viewpoint also appeared in NCE from Pinsent Masons' Nick Ogden, who said that the NNA would be pivotal in realising the Northern Powerhouse ambition.
Since it was launched, the NNA has featured in national, regional and trade press over 60 times. The evidence gathered will contribute to a final report to be published in the autumn, and shared with the National Infrastructure Commission to inform its own needs analysis.