Engineers have called on government to act after politicians from across the political spectrum expressed doubts about plans to upgrade the country’s infrastructure.
At a Labour party conference reception in Manchester last night, the Infrastructure Alliance called on government to do more to back infrastructure delivery after a survey showed that the majority of MPs believe vital infrastructure projects will be delivered late and/or over budget.
“The reality is that we’ve had the National Infrastructure Plan for two years now and many – maybe even the majority – of projects haven’t yet turned a turf,” said ICE director general Nick Baveystock, speaking on behalf of the Infrastructure Alliance.
He was speaking after a CITB-ConstructionSkills ComRes survey of MPs showed that 54% of the 107 who responded believed that infrastructure projects and programmes – from High Speed 2 to new nuclear – would not be delivered on time and to budget.
“We’ve done the policy work, and we needed to do so,” said Baveystock. “We thought that was the hard part. But in the future, we’ll probably look back on that as the easy bit.
“Now is the tricky part, for if we are truly to deliver the infrastructure this country needs, we have to take a long term, strategic and genuinely visionary view. This isn’t ground breaking stuff: New Zealand is on its seventh iteration of such a plan: politically neutral, focused and driving the growth of the economy,” he said. “We must learn from others. For, above all, infrastructure costs are directly proportional to political uncertainty.
Baveystock said there were some “big, bold and brave steps” that need to be taken, and called on government to adopt a four-point plan to heed recommendations made in the Alliance’s Avoiding the Infrastructure Crunch: Getting Britain working report.
It recommends immediate action to stimulate shovel-ready maintenance and minor works; analysis of future demand for skills to ensure the UK has a workforce available to deliver future projects; a rebalancing of investment throughout the UK; and development of greater consensus on the country’s infrastructure needs and how they can be best delivered and paid for.