Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Room for improvement

COVER STORY - State of the nation: The Winter 2001 State of the Nation report card shows some success is being made in the UK's infrastructure. But Antony Oliver explains why an overall grade Cminus, with no noticeable change since the summer, is just not

Six months ago, the UK public gave its wholehearted endorsement to Tony Blair and his policies by returning his Labour government for another five-year term of office.

The landslide proportions of victory, albeit over a Conservative opposition in disarray, showed clearly a belief in the long-term good his government promised.

But delivering the promises, as previous governments have so often found, is substantially harder than making them. Tony Blair's government is no different.

So, while the Winter 2001 state of the nation report card gives praise where it is due for the excellent ideas and policies being promoted for infrastructure maintenance and development around the UK, it records no visible steps forward in terms of delivering real improvements.

As in the Summer 2001 report card, the overall grade is a miserable C-minus. Of course, let's not forget that the last six months have seen some unprecedented problems for the UK and the world. Foot and mouth paralysed agriculture, race riots have tarnished communities and terrorism on a scale never seen before has shocked the west and taken us to war in Afghanistan.

But there have been success stories since the summer. The energy review being carried out by the Cabinet Office think tank, the Performance and Innovation Unit, comes after successive report cards demanded it. With its results, the UK stands a real chance of developing the strategies needed to deliver secure and sustainable sources of power.

In urban development, we are seeing isolated pockets of achievement. Sustainable improvements are being made to the environment by enthused individuals who really care.

There is much to do, but results are being achieved.

In waste, though funding is still too low, in-roads are being made to tackle targets for reducing the amount we dispose to landfill. Again, there is much to do, but there are signs that, through hard work and persistence, the vital sustainability messages are starting to get through to local authorities, business and the public.

And let's not forget that the Channel Tunnel Rail Link section two has begun and that the hugely discusssed and much delayed Heathrow Terminal Five has been given a green light.

Promised planning reforms should ensure that we never again see such important schemes held up in such a way again.

Spread the word

The state of the nation report card is over the page. We are distributing 500 to politicians, decision-makers and the media, but you can help to spread the word by photocopying it and circulating it to anyone you feel should know about the state of the nation's infrastructure.

The state of the nation panel Chairman: Joe Dwyer, ICE immediate past President.

Rail: Rob Boulger, managing director Balfour Beatty Rail Projects.

Water: Colin Fenn, director WS Atkins Environment: Roger Venables, director Crane Environmental.

Local transport: Graham Harding, Lancashire CC, environment director Waste: John Lucas, Enviros Aspinwall Urban regeneration: Duncan Michael, former chairman, Arup.

Roads: Professor Martin Snaith, University of Birmingham.

Energy: Steve Taylor, Alfred McAlpine Power.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.