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State of the Nation stirs media and MP's debate

ICE news

THIS YEAR'S State of the Nation report raised the alarm over the UK's impending waste crisis, triggering national radio, TV and newspaper coverage, and planting the ICE at the centre of the waste disposal debate.

Energy supply was also hotly debated in the Houses of Parliament for a second year running as 'lights out' remained a reality.

The annual State of the Nation report (NCE 17 June) highlights the state of UK infrastructure.

Issues raised in the report were covered by Radio Four's Today Programme, BBC Breakfast News and Newsnight.

The Times newspaper echoed the Institution's warning over the mounting waste crisis and its call for 2,300 waste handling facilities.

The Financial Times coverage concentrated on the 'lack of joined-up thinking' in implementing central government policy regionally.

In Parliament, Lord Tomlinson opened the energy debate, saying: 'With the reduction in electricity generated by coal and nuclear power by 2010, the mix will be such that we have precious little time to make up the energy gap from renewables.'

The ICE report says that government has been slow to act to avert the problem.

Parliamentary under secretary for science Lord Sainsbury hit back, saying that the ICE had painted a darker picture than presented in the government's energy White Paper.

He was then forced to defend government's energy targets of producing 10% of energy from renewables by 2010 and 20% by 2020, saying 'there is a considerable policy programme on improving energy efficiency'.

Baroness Miller of Hendon urged that nuclear power should not be ruled out as a competitor to wind power. 'Nuclear power costs less overall than wind power and is much more secure because it does not depend on the weather, ' she said.

But the environmental impact and decommissioning costs of nuclear power had to be dealt with before nuclear power became a viable option, countered Sainsbury.

Civil engineer and Scarborough & North Yorkshire MP Lawrie Quinn continued the debate in the House of Commons. He quoted extracts from the ICE report and urged the government to make important and perhaps 'unpalatable' decisions regarding civil engineering infrastructure to maintain the current standard of living.

The evening parliamentary reception at the ICE was attended by over 80 MPs including former shadow environment and transport secretary Theresa May and rural affairs and local environmental minister Alun Michael.

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