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Thu December 03 2020

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Shut up and do something, engineers tell government

1 Oct 13 The director of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has accused the government of being full of hot air.

ICE director general Nick Baveystock
ICE director general Nick Baveystock

The government had ‘signalled its commitment’ but had not actually done much for infrastructure, the ICE said.

ICE director general Nick Baveystock said that it was time for the government to move from rhetoric into “delivery mode”. Promises had been made but action was now needed, he said.

Mr Baveystock has submitted the ICE’s recommendations for the next version of the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP), which is expected to be published with the chancellor’s autumn statement.

ICE said that the government should replace its “top 40” priority projects list – which actually contains more than 500 individual projects across all programmes of work – with a shorter, more concise list. The current list is too broad and there are no clear goals specified, it said.

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ICE also called for early introduction of the promised legislation to end stop/start investment patterns in the UK’s roads, which have long hindered maintenance and management of the asset.  And it urged government to ensure swift passage of the Electricity Market Reform which it claimed is “arguably the most important national strategic requirement covered in the NIP”.  

Mr Baveystock said that the first two editions of the NIP had set out a “vision for UK infrastructure, but the need for it to evolve into a robust and focussed delivery plan is growing”.

On the promised roads reforms, Mr Baveystock added: “The proposal to create an arm’s length Highways Agency with a multi-year funding settlement is welcome. The highways sector has suffered more than others from stop/start investment and capricious decision making and these steps therefore signal government’s commitment to making decisions for the long term.  Prompt introduction of the promised legislation to implement the proposals, is however critical.”

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