Tough political Choices ahead for UK Infrastructure, warns ICE

On 25 June, ICE launched its State of the Nation scorecard assessment of the UK’s infrastructure, highlighting issues of availability and resilience as future challenges for the government and industry.

In the report ICE argues that the current approach to delivering and maintaining our infrastructure requires attention. If we are to compete in a global economy, the UK cannot afford to settle for infrastructure which does not meet the challenges we are now encountering.

Lack of resilience

Speaking at the launch, Keith Clarke, ICE Vice President and Chair of the Project Steering Group said that the impact of climate change will increasingly stress our infrastructure, and as the 2013/14 winter floods showed, many of our infrastructure networks are simply not resilient. It is Government who is responsible for setting expectations and standards for resilience – not the private sector. The UK's lack of resilience is highlighted in our report by the low grades given to our flood management, energy and local transport networks.

Also speaking at the launch were Lord Adonis and Lord Heseltine. They both expressed support for many of the findings in the report and agree that politicians must take timely decisions to allow industry and investors to deliver the infrastructure the UK needs.

Invest and protect

ICE's report highlights the importance of maintaining the infrastructure that we have, as underinvestment in local road and flood management infrastructure impacts on local communities and businesses as well as the environment.

A lack of resilience causes a 'domino effect', where the failure of one network can affect the operation of another. Resilience should be embedded into the criteria used as a basis for making decisions on priority infrastructure projects, to help new infrastructure become future-proofed – as well as maintaining the current infrastructure stock.

With increasingly extreme weather events on the horizon, it will also become more difficult to operate all infrastructure networks, at all times, in all conditions. It will also not be cost effective. This means that a shift in the public's expectations on infrastructure availability is needed.

Tough choices

Government and industry must now be prepared to make these tough choices – around value for money, availability and resilience – and ensure we are equipped to meet the needs of society and our environment.

Media coverage on ICE's State of the Nation report to date includes:

    Six national newspaper articles – including Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Evening Standard
    Nine regional TV and radio hits, including BBC Breakfast Northern Ireland and South West
    Twenty one regional newspaper articles, print and online, including Western Daily Press, Western Morning News and Yorkshire Post as well as;
    Twenty two trade articles, in print and online including in Building, Construction News and Construction Enquirer

ICE will use the report as a key influencing tool to support our goal of embedding ICE recommendations on infrastructure investment into the UK general election manifestos of the major UK parties.

The General Election is at the heart of ICE's public affairs activity for this year and next, as ICE seeks to secure political commitment to the calls made in State of the Nation through maintaining and expanding the political presence and public visibility as leaders of the infrastructure debate. At this important time in the electoral cycle, ICE will be working hard to keep infrastructure at the top of the political agenda as ICE build up to May 2015.

Find out more about ICE's State of the Nation and read the full report.

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