ICE manifesto backs independent infrastructure body

Creation of an independent infrastructure body is top of the list of requirements for whichever party wins the next election, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers.

 It says in its 'Manifesto for infrastructure' that creating such a body – “ideally by restructuring Infrastructure UK” would reduce delay and uncertainty in a sector that is vital to the UK economy.

“This is no time for the faint hearted – the next Government must establish a long-term vision for infrastructure and a framework that facilitates cross-party consensus." Nick Baveystock

Last week shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed the Labour Party’s idea for an independent infrastructure commission was over half way to gaining cross party acceptance and former transport secretary Lord Adonis said the House of Lords was virtually 100% behind such a concept, bar one peer.

ICE said in its manifesto that whichever party wins the General Election, they must place infrastructure at the heart of economic plans with priority for investment. This is needed “if the UK is to succeed in driving long term economic growth and job creation, regenerating our communities and improving quality of life for the public”.

In 2013 UK construction contributed £92.4bn in economic output - 6.1% of the total. In Q3 of 2014, 2.1M jobs were in the construction industry, ICE said.

ICE warned that failing to make infrastructure a priority, or instead opting for quick electoral wins, could result in “other competing nations taking our edge and the UK’s resilience diminishing”.

It called on the next Government to establish a long term vision for UK infrastructure and a framework that puts the vision above political fault lines – building on progress achieved in recent years rather than starting from scratch in order to maintain momentum and investor confidence.

It also urged those in power from 7 May to take steps to unlock the potential of our city-regions to help rebalance growth, to “future proof” our infrastructure by embedding climate change resilience into decision making, and to up the ante when it comes securing a world class engineering workforce that can drive innovation and economic productivity.

The ICE Manifesto recommended 10 key policies to help deliver these goals:

  • Create an independent infrastructure body - ideally by restructuring existing Treasury body Infrastructure UK to reduce delay and uncertainty
  • Act swiftly and boldly on the Davies Commission recommendations, paving the way for delivery and avoiding further delay in resolving the UK’s aviation hub issues
  • Work with local authorities to clear the road maintenance backlog and commit to a planned, preventative maintenance regime - addressing defects on a more long-term ‘value for money’ basis
  • “Future proof” new infrastructure by embedding resilience - and the “domino effect” across networks when one system fails - into criteria used to make decisions on which projects go ahead
  • Implement Energy Market Reform fully and smoothly with changes kept to a minimum, to entrench cross-party support for electricity decarbonisation
  • Commit to a long-term maintenance investment programme for flood risk management
  • Accelerate the devolution of transport powers by creating city-region transport authorities responsible for roads and all public transport, supported by a national transport strategy for England
  • Commit to increasing the quality - not just the quantity - of apprenticeships so those on schemes achieve a qualification which sets them up for life, and the UK benefits from a pipeline of talent
  • Ensure Ofsted rigorously inspects schools’ careers guidance so the range of “STEM” paths available, including vocational and technician roles, are communicated to students.
  • Establish an Office for Resource Management in Government to entrench a “circular economy” ethos across all departments and promote resource management as a driver of growth

ICE Director General, Nick Baveystock, said: “Infrastructure is the foundation of all modern societies –it not only boosts GDP and job creation but regenerates communities, connects people and places and equips future generations with desirable skills.

“The benefits of infrastructure investment are now well established across political divides, resulting in some welcome schemes and initiatives and infrastructure rightly positioned high on the political agenda. We are however at a critical time - where the scale of the UK’s needs is large and growing,  public finances remain tight and we are slowly emerging as an attractive market for infrastructure investment - it is vital therefore that we do not lose impetus.

“Whichever party wins the General Election, infrastructure should form a central plank of its economic policy - building on the progress already made and using infrastructure to realise the UK’s full economic potential. Failing to give it a front row seat, or opting for shorter term electoral wins, could lead to other competing nations taking our edge and the UK’s resilience diminishing.

“This is no time for the faint hearted – the next Government must establish a long-term vision for infrastructure and a framework that facilitates cross-party consensus. We need to build the UK’s resilience, rebalance growth, and secure a world class engineering workforce. There are also some tough decisions ahead – not least on the UK’s aviation policy and our future energy mix. But with concerted political commitment, challenges can become opportunities, and we can deliver the infrastructure we need for the 21st Century and beyond.”

View the Manifesto for Infrastructure here  


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Got to be the right thing - for the country and the industry
Got to be the right thing - for the country and the industry