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ICE calls for independent infrastructure body

Ministers should set up an independent infrastructure commission to develop a robust, long term transport strategy immune from political interference, the ICE said this week.

This is one of the key recommendations in the Institution’s State of the Nation: Transport report published last week.

It says the commission should operate at arms-length from the government would aim to “inform the development and implementation of a transport strategy to ensure it survives multiple political cycles”.

Initially it would focus on England, but could broaden its remit beyond transport to other infrastructure.

Proposals for such a commission echo views expressed in the last State of the Nation:Transport report, published in 2008.

At that time the ICE said the demise of the government’s 10 year strategy had left the UK without a clear vision for transport or commitment. It called for greater political consensus on transport policy and a 30 year transport strategy.

“The case for an infrastructure commission arises in the recognition that simply devising strategy - as much as this is desirable, particularly in transport - will not necessarily deliver improved results,” says the new report.

ICE State of the Nation Transport panel chairman Steven Hayter refuted suggestions that such a commission would go thesame way as the abolished independent Infrastructure Planning Commission.

He told NCE that such a commission could be successful and that while the coalition government’s decision to scrap the IPC “frustrated many people”, there were successful and sustained models elsewhere.

He said one such example of was the Committee on Climate Change.


Independent Infrastructure Commission’s role

The proposed Independent Infrastructure Commission would:

  • Set high level goals and outcomes for infrastructure
  • Develop the National Infrastructure Plan, which would become a statutory document
  • Audit implementation and performance


State of the Nation: Transport recommendations

The report’s three main recommendations:

  • Extend devolution to fully integrated transport bodies. Central government power should be devolved to democratically accountable regional or city-wide bodies with more responsibility for roads and bus networks.
  • Immediate action to improve road conditions, planning and funding Governments must move urgently to improve the performance of the roads network and place its management and maintenance on a secure and cost effective footing. This should be done by creating a joint programme of work with local highways authorities, ending stop-start investment in England’s strategic road network, and bringing forward long-delayed options for its future ownership and funding
  • Establish clear national transport strategies for all of the UK Devolved administrations have shown how clear strategic thinking can provide long term clarity for investment and outcomes, where England is particularly lacking. The ICE wants a national transport strategy, an Independent Infrastructure Commission and a Transport Futures Board, ideally within the independent infrastructure commission to explore emerging, sensitive and complex issues.

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