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Scotland View | Scotland is on a mission

The new Infrastructure Commission for Scotland presents us with an opportunity to shape the country’s infrastructure to meet the needs of future generations, and we all have a role to play.

Sara thiam

Sara thiam

Sara Thiam

The Commission, announced by the Scottish Government last year, will advise on the long-term vision and ambitions for Scotland’s infrastructure, considering the whole-life needs of existing foundations as well as future capital investment. It will report on infrastructure priorities by the end of 2019, recommending delivery models by mid-2020.

The national infrastructure mission, outlined in the 2018 Programme for Government, commits to additional investment of £1.5bn per year – increasing capital investment by an additional 1% of current Scottish GDP, or an estimated £7bn, by 2025.

The intention is to transform Scotland’s economic foundations by investing in housing, schools, hospitals, transport and digital infrastructure for future generations.

ICE Scotland called for a co-ordinated approach to infrastructure planning in our 2016 National Needs Assessment. In last year’s State of the Nation: Infrastructure Investment Scotland report we outlined key asks for the new Commission – including that it be independent.

Last week, the Commission met for the first time and officially named its members. It is encouraging to see the range of experts from all sectors involved – including myself.

Building cross-party support for the Commission will be critical to its success. Infrastructure is a long-term investment, so retaining strategic direction through election cycles and potential changes in government is vital to meeting Scotland’s future infrastructure needs. We need to improve the capacity of existing infrastructure networks, significantly improve customer service and increase resilience/security of supply. We need to consider larger, more strategic, long-term projects that address climate change, an ageing population and harness innovation and technological change.

The Scottish Government has delivered what we have asked of it. The financial envelope and desired outcomes are now clear. It is time for our sector to step up and respond, using our collective expertise to inform investment decisions and deliver infrastructure which meets societal needs over the next 30 years.

As the engineers who design, build and maintain the infrastructure on which Scotland depends it is essential that our members are part of the conversation. We also want to hear from members across the UK and around the world in line with the Commission’s aspirations to be outward looking, forward-thinking and innovative.

The ICE’s ability to deliver credible, evidence-based opinion is only possible with our members’ input so we want to work closely with you all to make sure that views are fed into the Commission, via submissions and calls for evidence. To get involved, please contact our office scotland@ice.org.uk.

  • Sara Thiam is ICE Scotland’s regional director

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