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ICE examines disaster risks

ICE this week urged members to contribute evidence to an inquiry into the resilience of UK infrastructure. The Defending Critical Infrastructure Inquiry is part of the approach to the new-look State of the Nation report to be published in June.

The inquiry is modelled on those carried out by Parliamentary select committees. MPs are used to this format and understand it and it is hoped resulting reports will have more impact.

Individuals and representatives of companies and organisations could be invited to discuss their evidence before a committee of senior engineers who will then compile a report with recommendations. "We know how highly members value ICE getting involved in influencing government and policy making and the State of the Nation reports are key to this," said ICE head of policy Andrew Crudgington. "But we recognise we need to move the State of the Nation forward, beyond profile raising and simply pointing out problems to engaging more deeply with policy matters and making specific recommendations."

"State of the Nation: Defending Critical Infrastructure will look like a select committee report, with chunkier recommendations and analysis," Crudgington predicted. "What we want is to give clear recommendations back to government that are useful."

Last week ICE called for written evidence from other institutions, Transport for London, the Local Government Association, the political parties, water companies, consultants, contractors and regional associations. "Now we want to open the process to individual members" said Crudgington.

The inquiry will consider the effects of man made and natural events on the nation’s health, security and economic well-being. It will aim to identify factors affecting transport, energy, waste disposal, water and wastewater. "Events such as the floods of 2007 and the terrorist attacks on the London Underground in 2005 have highlighted how a single event can have a wide impact across several infrastructure networks," says the call for evidence. "There is also evidence that long term political and economic processes can affect networks as demonstrated by increasing concerns about brownouts and blackouts in the energy sector."

ICE vice president Scott Steedman is leading the inquiry project for the ICE and the inquiry will be chaired by Merseytravel operations director Alan Stillwell, the outgoing chair of the ICE transport board. Others select committee members are Arup geotechnical director Tim Chapman, Faber Maunsell Aecom regional director Amrit Ghose, Drax head of risk management David Hirst, Grant Thornton senior manager Nigel Mattravers, MWH Europe president David Nickols and ICE Wales regional director Keith Jones.

There are already plans for a second inquiry into Low Carbon Infrastructure. A call for evidence will go out in April.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR EVIDENCE

  • ICE wants written submissions of no more than 3,000 words by Friday 13 February to evidence@ice.org.uk and marked "Defending Critical Infrastructure Inquiry". Postal submissions should be sent to Beth Bear, ICE, 1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA. Oral hearings will take place in early March and the final report will be published on 24 June.

Further information is available by emailing andrew.crudginton@ice.org.uk or beth.bear@ice.org.uk Please notify the ICE in advance if you plan to submit evidence.

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