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Coalition calls for evidence on future infrastructure needs

Words: Laura Edgar

A coalition of business, industry, academic and environment leaders is calling for evidence to inform an independent assessment of the UK’s future infrastructure needs and how they could be met.

The coalition, led by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and chaired by the institution’s president and National Infrastructure Commissioner Sir John Armitt, is undertaking a National Needs Assessment based on the nationwide consultation launched today.

According to the ICE, evidence gathered during the consultation includes hearings, research carried out by the Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium and a pool of data and analysis. It will also consider climate change, population growth and “technological game changers”.

The coalition is made up of:

Institution of Civil Engineers

• Confederation British Industry

• 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

• Scottish Council for Development and Industry

Armitt said effective infrastructure “drives growth, supports job creation and creates thriving, sustainable societies”. But, he continued, infrastructure is expensive, disruptive during construction and requires “fine political judgement” to ensure 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,” Armitt explained, “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,” Armitt said.

Professor Lord Robert Mair, head of civil engineering at Cambridge University, added: "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."

More information can be found on the Institution of Civil Engineers website.