ICE President Peter Hansford reports on a major study into UK infrastructure.
Last week the ICE hosted a very important industry event to discuss Infrastructure UK’s (IUK) study into the factors that can drive up the cost of major infrastructure projects in the UK - and decide how best to take forward the actions identified in the final report.
Over 140 senior representatives from across industry, business and government gathered for the event in ICE’s Telford Theatre and as I opened the session and introduced IUK chairman, Paul Skinner, I could sense real conviction and enthusiasm in the audience for achieving the goals.
I am proud to say that the ICE has played a central role over the course of this study, directly with IUK and through the creation of an independent Stakeholder Reference Group (the SRG).
The SRG, which I have chaired, has supported the investigation from its inception - firstly by ensuring that the valuable contribution and input of all facets of the industry was actively sought and secondly by providing a channel through which the wider industry could provide technical input and comment on the findings and actions.
One of the ICE’s Associated Societies, the British Tunnelling Society, has also made a significant contribution to the study by providing detailed data on tunnelling costs, illustrating that the average unit rates for tunnelling construction contracts in the UK are not significantly different to those in Europe.
As the IUK report rightly points out, addressing the factors that can drive down
the cost of major infrastructure projects could save government and private investors alike, billions of pounds - or, more can be built with the same level of funding, thus benefitting society as a whole.
Value for money
This would be a worthy objective at any time, but during a period of economic difficulty we all know that delivering “value for money” has never been more important.
Achieving this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for us all - and clearly government and industry both have vital roles to play.
But I can say with confidence, that through my involvement in the study and the industry event last week, the whole industry is in support of the study aims, and committed to making it happen.
ICE now looks forward to continuing its work with IUK, other Government bodies and Parliament - on the implementation plan for this study, and beyond.
This will ensure that the engineering expertise across our membership continues to be captured and utilised in the Government’s work.
I am confident that by working together, we can achieve a better framework for the way the UK delivers its infrastructure - a framework that delivers infrastructure to support a better quality of life - and a sustainable, low-carbon and growing economy.
- Peter Hansford is ICE President