Engineers call for strategic infrastructure body

20 Nov 14

Civil engineers have called for the creation of an independent body to identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs and are urging politicians to consider how such a body could be set up to avoid delays to existing plans.

The Institution of Civil Engineers said today a commission was needed to create both an evidence-based infrastructure strategy and an implementation plan to improve the development of major projects.

In its response to the National Infrastructure Commission proposed by Sir John Armitt’s review, commissioned by the Labour party, the ICE said the Treasury’s Infrastructure UK agency could be restructured into a non-governmental body responsible for developing the strategy.

Simon Grubb, ICE’s funding spokesperson, said an expanded IUK ‘could be operational more quickly than an entirely new body, avoiding loss of the hard won momentum behind infrastructure delivery secured in the last five to ten years’.

IUK should be given responsibility for setting a strategy and a national Investment and Delivery Plan to match projects to sources of funding, Grubb said. It should also monitor performance against the plan to ensure that objectives are met.

In his review for the Labour Party, published in September 2014, Armitt said a new system of infrastructure planning was needed as the country’s networks were 'increasingly struggling to cope'.

As part of a second phase of his work, Armitt has now published a draft bill for consultation on how to implement his proposed changes, including the creation of an independent commission.

In his response to the plans, Grubb said the changes would not mean removing politics from proposals for major projects but should establish a ‘framework from which political parties can build consensus on the UK’s infrastructure needs, and importantly one with public engagement at its heart so we foster a link between the users and the providers of infrastructure’.

He went on: ‘Sir John Armitt’s proposed alternative to the status quo is a valuable contribution to the infrastructure debate. ICE concurs with his analysis of what is stifling UK infrastructure development, and we agree on the need for some form of independent body.

‘However, ultimately such a body would need to be established and effective quickly if we are to avoid stalling the momentum that has been achieved and shaking investor confidence at this crucial time.’

Did you enjoy this article?